Latest report shows Southern Baptist membership decline continues

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the world's largest Baptist denomination. In the United States, SBC is the largest Protestant body and the second largest Christian body. In 2012, SBC had a membership of 16 million people. As of now, it only has 15.3 million, according to the latest Annual Church Profile report from LifeWay, one of the world's largest providers of Christian resources.

It is the 9th year in succession that the membership figures are declining. In 2014, SBC had 15.5 million members. That means, 200,000 members left the Church in a span of 1-2 years. According to the ACP report, the average weekly worship attendance has also declined by 1.72 percent to 5.6 million worshipers. The Church also saw a decline in the baptisms as well, 3.3 percent to 295,212. The ratio of baptisms to total membership decline is one baptism for every 52 members.

The only increase SBC saw in the past year is the increase in churches. The number of churches grew by 294. As of now, SBC has about 46,793 churches. This is a 0.63 percent increase from 2014. The increase in the number of churches could mainly be attributed to the church planting efforts.

The ACP report also shows that giving to churches rose in the past year (3.51 percent total Church receipts and 4.64 percent undesignated Church receipts), however, giving to denominational causes fell (3.81 percent).

CEO and Executive Committee president of SBC, Frank S. Page said that when today's world is desperate for the message from Christ, people are being less diligent in sharing the Good News. He prayed that the Good Lord forgive everyone and give them a new passion, to reach the world of Christ. Page further said that SBC does not believe in hiding the shrinking numbers, like some other denominations do, because for them, admitting the problem is the first step in addressing and correcting it.

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Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay, said that the ACP report shows that a good number of Southern Baptists still continue to worship, share the Gospel, contribute generously, and live peacefully in the community along with other believers. They praise and thank God for these efforts every year. The decrease in baptism is indeed disappointing. The increase in the number of churches is a good thing because all it takes is a few faithful people in each Church, who are dedicated about sharing their faith, to build the momentum.

SBC is not the only denomination that is experiencing a decline in their membership. The Roman Catholic Church is also seeing a lot of their member leaving the religion.

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