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Only 11% of SBC churches ‘healthy, growing’
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
January 26, 2010
2 MIN READ TIME

Only 11% of SBC churches ‘healthy, growing’

Only 11% of SBC churches ‘healthy, growing’
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
January 26, 2010

When the North American

Mission Board (NAMB) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary joined

forces to survey 1,000 “effective” or moderately effective churches last year,

they defined “effective” using the criterion from Bill Day’s 2004 study of

healthy, growing churches.

Day is professor of

evangelism and church health at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. One

day he grew curious about the oft-quoted statistic that only 30 percent of

Southern Baptist churches are growing.

That finding came from

church growth researcher Kirk Hadaway, who worked at what is now LifeWay

Christian Resources 1986-91. Hadaway defined a growing church as one that

increased 10 percent in total membership over five years and found that 30

percent of Southern Baptist churches fit.

Using that definition, Day

analyzed the list of current churches and found the 30 percent figure was still

true.

But 1,400 of the “growing”

churches did not baptize a single person in the year of the study. That implies

their growth was from transfers.

So Day redefined his

parameters. To be included a church had to have baptized at least one person in

the first and last years of the 5-year period.

Additionally, the church

needed to have a member-to-baptism ratio of no more than 35-to-one and

conversion growth needed to account for at least 25 percent of the church’s

total growth.

Day discovered only 11

percent of Southern Baptist Churches are “healthy, growing” churches by that

definition. Day said the NAMB and Southwestern study on evangelistic outreach —

to be released this spring — shows that “we need to be open to new ways of

doing things, but we also need to realize some old ways of doing things still

work today if we give them a chance.”

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