By Huw Williams (Huwmanbeing) (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Huw Williams (Huwmanbeing) (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Southern Baptist Convention lost over 200,000 members in 2014, the largest decline ever recorded.

According to data provided by LifeWay Christian Resources based on information from the Annual Church Profile (ACP), churches within the Southern Baptist Convention lost over 200,000 members in 2014. This was the largest one year decline ever recorded since 1881. The report shows decline in most areas and the only key area recording growth is the number of Southern Baptist churches which now stand at 46,499 having seen an additional 374 new ones in 2014.

Data elsewhere points to a picture of decline over the years in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. For example, the number of church membership declines by 1.5 percent to stand at 15.5 million which still ensures the church retains its position as the largest Protestant congregation by far but still is the lowest since 1993. Another huge drop was that of weekly church attendance on Sundays which dropped by 2.75 percent to stand at 5.67 million. The number of people being baptized has also dropped and pointed to other disturbing trends.

While the rate of the baptism remained about the same from the previous year of one baptism for every 51 members, this has largely been attributed to the decline in the number of Baptists. The totals have significantly fallen by 1.63% to 305, 301 which is the lowest number since 1947. Of these, the only age group that has recorded any growth is for the pre-school children under 6 and those under 11. More than half the churches had not baptized any millennials. Baptism rates have been on the decline for eight of the last ten years.

The growth in church has been attributed to the church planting efforts organized by the church. However, this can also be affected by the dwindling number of donations which comes as a result of fewer people. The president of the SBC executive committee said he was saddened by the numbers but felt they came due to lesser evangelizing efforts by the church members and lack of training new converts to the spiritual disciplines of Christ. The LifeWay Research executive director Edward Stetzer said the decline has been happening for some time only that it has accelerated now. However, he was confident the state of things can be reversed through collective effort.

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