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Southern Baptists report 19% attendance drop

(RNS) — Anecdotally, clergy have talked in regards to the disruption in worship attendance on this pandemic age. Now, Southern Baptists have statistics to show it.

The common in-person weekly attendance at Southern Baptist Conference church buildings declined 18.75%, from 4,439,797 in 2020 to three,607,530 in 2021.

Christian schooling noticed a fair bigger lower of twenty-two.15%, with Sunday college, Bible research and small teams diminished from 2,879,130 to 2,241,514. 

The Annual Church Profile, a compilation from the denomination’s state conventions, was launched Thursday (Might 12) by Lifeway Christian Sources, the conference’s knowledge gathering division.

Researchers additionally blamed COVID-19 for the slowdown in baptisms prior to now two years. Whereas there was a 26% annual enhance in baptisms at Southern Baptist church buildings, from 123,160 in 2020 to 154,701 in 2021, general baptisms are nowhere close to the entire of 235,748 reported in 2019, the 12 months earlier than the pandemic started.

Scott McConnell, government director of Lifeway Analysis, stated the current rise in baptisms was due not solely to church buildings’ reopening because the pandemic eased earlier this 12 months, however to the elevated evangelism the easing allowed.

RELATED: Half of churches say Sunday school, other education programs disrupted by pandemic

“Some folks may have been able to be baptized however delayed it till their church was assembly once more,” he informed Faith Information Service. “However we attribute many of the development to people and church buildings resuming actions the place they’ve shared the gospel with others.”

“2021 Southern Baptist Conference Statistical Abstract” Graphic courtesy of Lifeway Analysis

Willie McLaurin, the SBC Government Committee’s interim president and CEO, stated in Lifeway’s announcement of the 2021 profile that he rejoiced on the “uptick” in baptisms.

“I’m extremely pleased with native church buildings which have stayed regular with evangelism in the course of the pandemic,” stated McLaurin. “The rise in baptisms highlights that native pastors and church buildings prioritize soul-winning, evangelism and discipleship.”

The one different development Southern Baptists noticed in 2021 was in monetary giving. Contributions elevated by $304 million for a complete of $11.8 billion general.

However membership is continuous its decline of a few years with a 3% loss, from 14,089,947 in 2020 to 13,680,493 in 2021.

Along with persevering with loss in membership, there was a drop in complete variety of congregations for the fourth 12 months in a row in america’ largest Protestant denomination. Congregations in 2021 totaled 50,423, down from a peak of 51,920 in 2017.

The Annual Church Profile for the primary time featured analysis on on-line worship and spiritual schooling.

Scott McConnell. Courtesy photo

Scott McConnell. Courtesy picture

Southern Baptist congregations stated 1,447,313 attended on-line on common every week, whereas a median of 198,122 attended Sunday college, small teams or Bible research.

“Many church buildings started sharing their worship companies on-line in the course of the pandemic,” stated McConnell in Lifeway’s assertion. “Whereas some could solely proceed this apply till it’s secure for all to return, others have made it an ongoing a part of their ministry or outreach.”

Seventy % of SBC-affiliated church buildings took half within the 2021 profile, lower than the 75% that did so in 2019.

O’Connell stated all 41 Baptist state conventions reported membership numbers, however a number of state conventions didn’t request details about participation in on-line worship and Christian schooling.

RELATED: Study: More congregations are reopening but attendance remains flat

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