Last week the Southern Baptist Convention released its Annual Church Profile. The report showed a continued decline of the once conservative Baptist cooperation. However, the last two years have had a devastating impact on any metric that could be used to show that the SBC was fulfilling the Great Commission.
Despite the availability of Zoom, Teams, and Signal, Christian education saw an even larger decrease of 22.15%, with Sunday school, Bible study, and small groups reduced from 2,879,130 to 2,241,514. Many churches outsourced church functions to small groups during this time yet this did not stem the bleeding.
While there has been a 26% annual increase in baptisms at Southern Baptist churches, from 123,160 in 2020 to 154,701 in 2021, overall baptisms are nowhere near the total of 235,748 reported in 2019, the year before the lockdowns began.
Evangelical Dark Web underwent an analysis of the data and found the following to be true:
- Churches in “free(er) states outperformed most pro-lockdown states
- Weekly church attendance was the most signifficant factor in measuring Great Commission progress.
In layman’s terms, in order to carry out the Great Commission, you have to show up to church. Churches in states with fewer restrictions saw increased ability to do so.
The top performers in the metric of Baptisms Per Church in 2021 were as follows:
- Iowa 9.241
- Florida 6.684
- New Mexico 5.585
- Tennessee 4.673
- Oklahoma 4.620
- SBTC 4.539
- SBCV 4.391
The worst performers in Baptism per church were as follows:
- Utah-Idaho 1.378
- BGAV 1.390
- West Virginia 1.421
- Maryland-Delaware 1.432
- Dakota 1.805
- California 1.822
- Hawaii-Pacific 1.992
All of these represent a precipitous drop from Iowa’s performance. Interestingly enough, one Virginia Baptist convention was in the top seven and the other in the bottom seven. I am unsure whether the more overtly Southern Baptist state level convention is more conservative or whether the general convention went more Branch Covidian. This data would suggest that they did. South Dakota may have been the freest state in 2020, but its performance in 2021 as a state is at a minimum lumped in with North Dakota which was not as free. Additionally, this represents the second smallest convention in more sparely populated areas. Additionally, that would explain Utah-Idaho to some degree. The rest of the areas on that list were very much in favor of lockdowns.
There is no real correlation between the number of churches in a convention and the Baptisms Per Church (BPC) churches in that state averaged. The correlation is in the weekly attendance.
This represents a strong correlation between attendees and the BPC within a state level Baptist convention. Yet the states with the highest weekly attendance were Iowa and wait for it… Florida. Iowa Southern Baptist Churches clocked in at about 163.5 attendees a week (in person) while Florida ranked second with 121.3. The two worst conventions were Hawaii-Pacific at 36.7 and New York at 25.6! Neither one of these state conventions had the lowest purported membership size per church. Those would have belonged to more sparsely populated areas. But, alas, the Branch Covidian impact on the church depreciated attendance in New York and thus diminished any discernable Great Commission metrics that Baptist use.
Ghost Megachurches Continues?
As you can see below, membership roles are widely inaccurate and have no correlation to results.
Membership roles are bigger in Texas but the average weekly attendance is not. There are a lot of churches that are completely bluffing their membership roles. Or more disastrously, people didn’t return to churches that embraced Branch Covidianism and they are seeing the outcome of their choices.
The Southern Baptist Convention is useful in that the data it provided completely shows that embracing lockdowns yielded rotten fruit, and that churches thrive in areas where religious liberty is better respected because of how woefully unprepared an unwilling the American church was to suffer an ounce of persecution.