Posted tagged ‘Every Number Has a Story’

Addendum: Three Case Studies

May 7, 2008

On the topic of health and growth of churches in the SBC, I want to give you three report cards from three very different churches (no, I will not tell you which church they are). What I want you to do is simply take a look for yourselves and let me know what you think. Ask yourselves such questions as, “Which church is the healthiest and why?” or “Which church best reflects biblical church growth?”

A couple of things to note here. The UCM index is the number of inactive members divided by the total membership for the year 2006 (this research was done prior to 2007 ACP records). The A/A differential is total additions 2000-2006 over total attendance growth 2000-2006 (hence A/A differential). For example if the A/A differential was 500/100, that means during the seven-year period, 500 people were added to the church as members while only 100 are reflected in their attendance growth. [I have researched close to 100 leading churches in the SBC and have ranked them according to these two factors.] The purpose of looking at these figures are a means for considering our need for healthy churches that are experiencing biblical church growth.

Here they are:


“Ministerially Speaking”

March 18, 2008

“Though official statements still affirm the doctrine of regenerate church membership, statistics indicate a different reality for the great majority of Baptist churches in North America.”
– John S. Hammett, Professor of Systematic Theology, SEBTS


A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in class when my professor was discussing characteristics of biblical leadership, and during that discussion I learned of a term often used when talking about churches and their statistics. The term “ministerially speaking” is used when someone does not accurately present the facts or stats but rather exaggerates or embellishes the truth to their own benefit.

In Southern Baptist life, numbers and statistics seem to be a big deal. You will hear the defense and argument everywhere from the fact that we have a book in the Bible called “Numbers” to the pragmatic rationale of management principles for ministerial success. Over the course of my experience as a Southern Baptist with the heightened emphasis on numbers, I had become frustrated because of my conviction that we had auctioned the church off to corporate America and unrestrained pragmatism in the pursuit of upholding denominational dominance and triumphalism. Every time for instance, when you hear that we Southern Baptists account for 16+ million people, we of course are “ministerially speaking.” For example, while in 2004 Southern Baptists reported a total of 16,267,494 members, only 6,024,289 (37%) were on average present for Sunday morning worship. The 16 million is the number we report to the secular media, and the 6 million is the number we report to God–and that on a good day.

“Ministerially Speaking” in Focus

But at this particular juncture and season of SBC politics, “ministerially speaking” perhaps is best seen when Baptist Press announces another candidate for an SBC office. At the very heart of their reporting, you will find a lot of numbers, most of which comes from the Annual Church Profile database. For instance, let’s take the most recent candidate for president, Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Baptist Press reports,

“Cox has been North Metro’s pastor for more than 27 years. Under his leadership, the church has grown from 700 members to more than 4,600, with 3,600-plus individuals added to the church fellowship as baptized believers.”