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Southern Baptists’ Baptisms Dip to Lowest in Two Decades

(RNS) The number of baptisms by Southern Baptists — who consider the rite a gauge of their evangelism success and a key element of their faith — has dropped to the lowest rate in two decades.
The denomination, which also saw a slight decrease in membership numbers, recorded 342,198 baptisms in 2008, a decrease of 1.1 percent from the previous year, according to LifeWay Christian Resources, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention that compiles annual statistics.
The baptism rate is the lowest for Southern Baptists since 1987 and represents the fourth consecutive annual decline, demonstrating a continuing challenge for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.
“The numbers simply tell us that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did,” said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, in an April 23 announcement of the new statistics.
“I pray that all of our churches and our entities will become totally focused on obeying Christ’s commission so that our convention will truly experience a Great Commission resurgence.”
Total membership in the denomination fell to 16,228,438, a drop of
38,482 members, or 0.2 percent.
Despite the economic downturn, Southern Baptists increased their support of missions by 2.3 percent last year.
LifeWay produces the Annual Church Profile by compiling information from state conventions affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • pagansister

    They’ve just joined the rest of the denominations…especially the RCC. Folks are getting smart and realize they don’t need organized religion, or perhaps the lapsed Southern Baptists are joining another denomination.

  • Henrietta22

    PS, they might be paying more attention to their own immediate families, and their needs, instead of paying it all out to the Church.

  • nnmns

    Yes, this is a very good time to think about real needs as compared to hypothetical fantasies and biggest-church competitions. Who needs what money you have more, your family and the needy or some blow-dried preacher wanting a new assistant or more AV equipment?
    I’m not talking about you, of course, j. Please tell me you don’t blow-dry your hair.

  • pagansister

    True, Henrietta.

  • Your Name

    Growing up in a Southern Baptist church i learned what it is to be a Southern Baptist. Called by God to preach i was faithful to answer that calling. And remained faithful to God and the church. After 36 years of marriage my then wife ran off with another man and eventually divorced me. I pleaded for reconciliation up until the judge signed the divorce papers. I was immediately told i could not preach for the Southern Baptist. I was not an advocate of divorce but a victim of it. But there was no reasoning with the upper level of the Southern Baptist officials. My wife left me-the church threw me out-where is the mercy that God talks about that we should have. i wonder how many have suffered the same injustice-God knew this would happen-if HE didn’t then HE’S not God–but HE did and yet scripture says HE ordained me from the foundations of the world. We are told to obey those in authority over us and when the judge signed the divorce papers i had to obey that decision. How many others called by God have been told to leave because of the self rightousness of the church and forbidden to fulfill their eternal calling.

  • Truly

    I am 47 years old and was raised in the Southern Baptist Church. My family of 10 siblings, mother and father went to church at least 3 times per week.
    Since I have become an adult, I have attended various churches over the years and have decided that either a “Baptist” Church “or” Christian Church is where I belong.
    I remember as a child how the preaching was so loud and sometimes scary that I didn’t want to raise my children that way.
    I married a Catholic and after searching out, we have come across a Christian church that has a very nice pastor and my children enjoy the youth ministry including the Youth Group meetings.

  • Heather

    Your Name
    That’s really a shame….Isn’t Charles Stanley allowed to stay in the pulpit?

  • pagansister

    Your Name, 8:47 Am 29 April:
    Well that’s certainly an example of “Christian love”!!! Kicking you out as a minister because your wife left you. Sounds to me like the Southern Baptists have more than just a few problems…

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