Annual Church Profiles-Round 2

I promise not to make a habit of this, but after giving in to curiosity about another prominent church in the SBC I looked up their statistics for the last 4 years based on the Annual Church Profile (ACP). What I found was a situation that appears to be far more serious than I imagined. I present these figures as further indication that church life in the SBC is desperately lacking. If churches do not return to meaningful membership and biblical church discipline, then there is little hope that some congregations will resemble anything close to a church in the next 20 years.

Again, this is from the ACP of a prominent Southern Baptist church in the south. The pastor has been a prominent leader in the SBC and a man who, in many ways, deserves respect and honor for his life and testimony. Yet, look at what I found:

2001
27905 members
21555 resident members
982 baptisms
683 other additions
9035 primary worship attendance

2002
28325 members
21686 resident members
801 baptisms
720 other additions
9186 primary worship attendance

2003
28837 members
21987 resident members
774 baptisms
652 other additions
8828 primary worship attendance

2004
29349 members
22189 resident members
774 baptisms
667 other additions
9168 primary worship attendance

In 4 years, according to the ACP, this church baptized 3331 people and had 2720 other additions. This means that 6051 people joined the church from 2001-2004. Yet, the primary worship attendance in 2001 was 9035 and in 2004 was 9168 or a total increase of 133. The resident membership increased from 21555 in 2001 to 22189 in 2004, a total of 634.

Once again I want to go on record acknowledging that statistics do not tell the whole and maybe not even the most important story about a church. But since our denomination is so captivated by them, these are worth considering.

Is this the kind of evangelism that we want to propogate in the SBC? The kind that has to baptize 5 people to increase a church’s membership by 1 resident member 4 years later (3331:634). Or that has to baptize 25 people to gain 1 new worshiper 4 years later (331:133)?

Is this the model that we want to hold up as a pattern for other churches?

I realize that there may be all kinds of extenuating circumstances that help put these statistics in a different light, but my fear is that these kinds of percentages are not at all uncommon in typical SBC churches.

The need to address these issues is patently clear. The good response to the resolution idea may be a good start. Southern Baptists simply must be encouraged to face up to the realities behind our sham statistics. Souls are at stake. Real evangelism is at stake. The gospel is at stake. The manifested glory of God is at stake.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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