Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tennessean Discusses SBC Decline

Saturday's Tennessean published an interesting article about the decline of the Southern Baptist Convention. The article has an insightful quote from Bill Leonard:

Bill Leonard, a Baptist historian at Wake Forest University, believes that conservatives underestimated the power of demographics. Much of the mainline decline is due to lower birthrates in those denominations. For years Southern Baptist churches grew because their people had more children than mainliners.

When that changed, fewer Baptist babies meant fewer Baptists, Leonard said.

The decline in children among Baptists is seen in Sunday school attendance.

In 1971, there were 1,434,892 children ages 6 to 11 in Southern Baptist Sunday schools. By 2007, the last year for which statistics are available, that number had dropped by about 455,000 to 979,429. At the same time, the U.S. population grew by 46 percent.

"Biblical inerrancy can't hold off demographic realities forever," Leonard said.


P M Prescott said...

I don't thing all of that can be attributed to decline in birth rate among Southern Baptists. It's an overall decline in Southern Baptists who were kicked out for not goose stepping to the tune of autocratic pastors. They took their kids with them.
The same thing happens here as with disenfranchised Catholics. When disenfranchised Baptists leave in disgust the drop out of church all together.

Chris said...

While I'm sure it has some affect, I imagine there is more to it than just demographic changes. Many folks quit coming to church. In the churches I have attended, there aren't many Gen Xers (young families). when I was growing up, my own parents quit attending church after a factious split. If Baptist Church membership roles were purged to include only those who have attended in the past 5 (pick a number) years, I wonder what that would do to the SBC membership counts.

Asinus Gravis said...

Hmm? I wonder if I am still listed on the roll of the Baptist church I last belonged to fifty years ago? I must admit I never formally resigned.