The Southern Baptist Convention membership continues to plummet according to the Annual Church Profile (ACP) report, with the denomination suffering a record loss of nearly half a million members in 2020.
Though the loss of these congregants dips their total amount of members to 14 million, down from a peak of 16.3 million in 2006, it is in fact nowhere near an accurate number of real Southern Baptist members.
SBC membership rolls are notoriously inaccurate and inflated, with purging the rolls viewed as thoroughly distasteful and far too humbling a task for most. Realistically the SBC would be lucky to have even 5 million members that could be found on any given Sunday.
The report further notes that “Southern Baptist churches also experienced a decline in worship attendance in 2020. Average weekly worship attendance declined by 15.44% percent to 4.4 million in-person worshippers.”
This is a far more accurate baseline of how many members they actually have.
Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, declares that COVID-19 and the mass church closures definitely had something to with the losses, noting that as Pastors reconnected with people after being shut down or online for so long, they “discovered some on their membership lists who moved away, joined another church, or no longer wanted to be a member.”
With bad news across the board, the only thing that did grow appears to have been “multisite congregations” who added 529 campuses.
Baptisms were also cut in half, from 235,748 in 2019 to 123,160 in 2020, with McConnel explaining that “socially distant behavior is helpful for containing a pandemic, but it hindered meeting new people, inviting people to church, and helping them take a step of obedience to be baptized,”
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