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Southern Baptists: Total Churches Up, Other Areas Down

The Southern Baptist Convention saw its membership grow by 479 churches in 2016.

While that represents a 1.02 percent increase, most other categories tracked by the convention saw a decrease.

Weekly average worship attendance declined by 6.75 percent, baptisms by 4.89 percent, total denominational membership by 0.51 percent and associations by 0.26 percent.

Other areas saw similar decreases:

Sunday school, Bible study and small group attendance also dropped, moving from just over 3.6 million in 2015 to just over 3.3 million in 2016 – an 8.77 percent decrease.

Total giving declined by 0.73 percent and total mission expenditures declined by 1.3 percent.

Undesignated giving saw a 0.67 percent increase, while “Great Commission Giving” increased by 5.21 percent. This latter category was established in 2010 and encompasses “all the financial support – [Cooperative Program] giving and designated giving – local congregations provide for Southern Baptist missions.”

The report noted that at least one state convention didn’t provide data for each of these categories, which can impact year-to-year comparison.

The top five states in total giving were: Texas ($2,285,726,715), Georgia ($1,063,948,315), North Carolina ($926,798,557), Tennessee ($801,030,069) and Alabama ($743,166,224).

“Virtually everyone who sees these figures will react negatively and lament the poor state of our churches, our lack of evangelistic fervor and our increasingly irrelevant programs. Indeed, we all should,” stated Frank S. Page, SBC Executive Committee president and CEO, in a LifeWay.com press release.

The full report is available here.