June 6, 2014

​Baptism, Worship Declines Prompt Baptist Leaders’ Prayers for ‘Renewed Passion’

BY CAROL PIPES ©2014 Baptist Press

Baptists experienced growth in the number of churches affiliated with the
convention in 2013, while other key measures declined, according to the Annual
Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation
with Baptist state conventions.

The number of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention grew by 91 to 46,125,
a 0.2 percent increase over 2012. SBC churches also reported 4,789 church-type
missions last year, a decline of 203 from 2012. However, some state conventions
no longer use the designation of church-type mission, which may have impacted
the total.

While the number of SBC churches increased, reported membership of those
churches declined by 136,764, down 0.9 percent to 15.7 million members. Primary
worship attendance declined 2.21 percent to an average of 5.8 million Sunday

For the second year in a row, Southern Baptists experienced a decline in
baptisms, down 1.46 percent to 310,368. Reported baptisms have declined seven
of the last nine years. However, the decline in 2013 is not as sharp as the
previous year's decline. In 2012 baptisms declined 5.5 percent.

"I am grieved we are clearly losing our evangelistic effectiveness,"
said Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. "I continue
to pray for revival and a renewed passion for the Great Commission in our
churches. May God renew all of us, including me, with a greater heart for the

Commenting on the annual summary, Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive
Committee, cited Old Testament prophet Amos: "Woe to you who are at ease
in Zion" (Amos 6:1).

"That warning in the book of Amos is a clear call to the people of God who
have lowered their guard, relaxed their vigilance and reduced their commitment
and passion for the things of God," Page said. "That very same thing
can be said of our modern-day churches as we yet again see a disappointing
decline in our ability to reach our continent for Christ."

Page said he is thankful for an increase in the number of churches, but lamented
a "lack of passion for reaching people for Christ. The numbers of people
in our continent are increasing dramatically while our evangelistic efforts are
failing in many places and in many ways.

"God help us realize the great needs that are before us and the great
opportunities that are there. Lord, forgive us of being at ease in Zion,"
Page said.

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