A Travel Free Learning Article
By George Bullard
Why Are Baptisms Down Among Southern Baptist Churches?
First, take note of the report that came out recently discussed in the article Pastors’ Task Force Releases Report on Declining Baptisms. The annual number of baptisms is down 25 percent in the last 15 years. They are the lowest they have been in over 30 years. This is devastating news for a denomination that prides itself on evangelism that leads to conversion and baptism. Or is it? Keep reading.
Second, membership in Southern Baptist churches is also down. In the seven reporting years beginning with 2005 total membership has declined from 16.6 million to 15.8 million. Where are these 800,000 people? An article on The Atlantic magazine’s web site points out that the decline in baptisms preceded the decline in membership by five years. See Baptists, Just Without the Baptisms. Do you think the baptisms drop caused the membership drop? Keep reading.
Third, most embarrassing for Southern Baptists is that this decline in baptisms and membership has happened during the early years of the denominational wide emphasis called the Great Commission Resurgence [GCR] that was guaranteed to transform and grow the denomination.
Some prognosticators—myself included—felt the GCR was also intended to keep young adult Southern Baptist pastors in the denominational fold by repositioning the denomination to do something dramatic that would reach the “Next Generation”. The baptism report implies that reaching the next generation is not working and remains one of the biggest challenges. Does this represent a failure? Keep reading.
Before proceeding let me indicate this post is not about bashing Southern Baptists. If you think that you are mistaken. It is about sounding an alarm about denominational reality in the second decade of the 21st century.