Friday, June 15, 2012

SBC: One net new church per state convention.

I enjoy the statistics that are released prior to our annual meeting each year even though there isn't much for any self-respecting Southern Baptist to brag about, and if we can't brag, we tend to pout.

We're pouting.

Thirty-seven is the net increase in SBC churches in the period 2010-2011. There were 45,727 SBC churches reported in 2010. There are 45,764 reported for 2011.

Forty-two is how many state conventions there are in the SBC.

So...actually...the largest non-catholic denomination in the United States increased their number of churches at a rate of about one per state convention.

How about that?

The Obama administration, if presented with similar stark statistics would be hard pressed to find any positive spin for it and they are masters at it.

Let's be accurate here:
  • Net new churches, .88 per state convention
  • One net new church per 431,840 members
  • One net new church per 31.7 Baptist associations

But consider this. Our North American Mission Board reports an unexpected increase in church plants for 2011. That figure is 990, almost a thousand church plants.

I am unsure if NAMB's plants are also reported on the Annual Church Profile as new churches, some or most may not be constituted, but if we are starting almost a thousand churches and show only the tiniest net increase, there must be a lot of congregations that went defunct, folded up, merged or got lost.  

In the last six months have preached and worshiped in some churches that are very small but I am unaware of any that disbanded in my area. Maybe there is a rash of church closures in other states. I don't know.

I am aware that NAMB has taken steps to stop the reporting of phantom church plants (explanation of which may be found in this article). Hard numbers are always better than SBC-style 'soft' numbers, even if we have to postpone our annual bragging session.

I'm thinking that we can do better than this if we can avoid a Calvinist/Traditionalist meltdown.

NAMB thinks we can do a lot better than this; hence, the Send North America initiative that is aiming at an additional 5,000 churches by 2022.

I like the concept. That's why we are here.

Less than one net new church per state convention. Ruminate on that for awhile.


sola396 said...

I understand that there are 5 in our association that are teetering on the brink of folding - one is supposedly doing a restart. I wonder also if some of those that were lost were Churches who no longer wanted to affiliate with the SBC and took their names off of the national registry. Additionally, I know of one Church plant that folded this year. I am sure there may have been many of those who could have been reported in 2009 and 2010, but dead by 2011.

Tim Dahl said...


I remember a conversation over at concerning church closures in TX.


I've not done a lot of digging since then, but my guess is that not much has changed. Even though TX is called the "buckle on the bible belt," I wouldn't be surprised if what we experience isn't also experienced throughout the rest of the convention.


D.R. Randle said...

Sorry, that first comment was from me. I was on the wrong Google account.

D.R. Randle

William Thornton said...

I know that there are explanations and wrinkles to this but there's no good way to slice it.

We can do better.

Anonymous said...

Starting new churches is unnecessary when so many are already in decline or plateauing. Every Southern Baptist church I have been a member of is in decline (First Baptist Daytona Beach, Colonial Heights Baptist Ridgeland, MS, Merrimon Avenue Baptist Church, Asheville, NC).

Tim Dahl said...


I couldn't disagree more. New churches are essential to growth of the SBC (or any denom/conven). If you want any denom/conven to die, be sure to stop (or curtail) church starting.