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.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday's Tennessean published an interesting article about the decline of the Southern Baptist Convention. The article has an insightful quote from Bill Leonard:
Posted by Bruce Prescott at 3:00 PM