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July 27, 2005


Dallas Tim

You should add "2b" 65% of Baptist have a hangover. That was my excuse for several years. I'd go to Sunday School to hang with friends, then head back home while my parents went to the main service so that I could play along with Keith Richards (usually to "tumblin' dice") on my stratocaster until around noon when the folks got home.

sense light

Baptist know how to count...oh my word - I didn't know. (sarcastic tone)...sorry I just think it's stupid that they knew they had 16 million and they are now worried about 6 million..they don't even know the 6 million that are coming. For crying out loud...let go of the roll call and let's just call the roll "when the roll is called up yonder what a day of rejoicing that will be..." Wonder if the Baptist will look around and ask, "Wait didn't that person attend the methodist church or wasn't she involved with the , etc..." Who knows maybe heaven is generous? I hope so - cause if not then I can't wait to hang out with those baptist in hell...
Grace, Sense Light

Kevin Powell

This is a HUGE issue for me. Reporting bad numbers only increases the illusion of eccesial "success." It important that we're honest, not just for honesty's sake, but because we need to be realistic about our mission and resources.

Many, if not most churches keep bad numbers. Some pastors have trouble removing peoples' family members because there seems to be an unspoken theology that we're saved by grace through faith and membership in our childhood church.

Other churches like seeing their numbers high when they make their annual reports. One church in my denomination boasts a membership of 450 with an average attendance of 88. That's a big discrepancy. I'd guess that their active membership would hover around 100. But that number wouldn't look very good on paper.

Sadly, such a church is not the exception.




I'm a pastor of a SB church in MT. Our state organization recently transitioned from a Fellowship to a Convention. When we did so, our revised Articles and Bylaws made the annual report THE qualification for churches' membership in the state convention. On the executive board then, I questioned and protested, the implication being that a church is a MT SB church by report filing rather than a creedal or confessional commonality. For some reason, I'm no longer on the executive board. For my church's part, we try to 'clean' out our membership records. While I have theological and pragmatic reasons for wanting to keep local church membership records and financial reports, I can't say the same for counting heads every Sunday (yay - it's a good Sunday!) or providing statistics for our state convention who will then use it them to form the basis for funding requests at the national level (the real reason it's a requirement in our Documents). Thus, I'm trying to transition my folks from this baseless methodology (that even moderate Baptists overwork as validifying). Odd as it is, it could get me into trouble.


Our church secretary and I once got into trouble for removing the brag board from it's place and hiding it. No one noticed until three months later. I think we got into trouble because the numbers lady had nothing to do on Sunday morning. Plus, numbers are what a church's value is based. It's wrong, but that is what some believe, I wish we would get away from it.


At least they have stopped reporting the weekly attendance numbers in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. What a crisis of ethics every monday...

let's see how many people were here last sunday? I counted 200. Yeah, but there was at least 20 you missed, and 20 in the nursery, and 20 roaming the halls, maybe another 20 came but didn't make it in before the count, lets call it 300 to be safe. Oh, and it looks like attendance is up from last year!

Makes for some crazy math. We were paddin' them numbers ten ways too sunday!


We cry about this, but numbers are still the major indicator of success. Why? I do not know since as your post and the comments show, they mean next to nothing. No, wait. They mean exactly what we want them to mean.

I don't see it changing though, this emphasis on numbers, not even if we all protest to our church boards until they kick us off. It won't change until a new generation of church leadership takes over, and that previous generation is working real hard to make the upcoming leaders just as myopic as they are.


The SBC only recognizes death or transfer to another SBC congregation. If you leave the denomination or church altogether, you're among the 16 million. When I die, I hope Jesus remembers to send a request for my church letter or I could be trapped on the books forever.

We also have to remember that baptist is the default religion. If you haven't been to church since you were five but still dust the huge family bible that your aunt bought you when you got married thirty years ago, you're probably baptist. The denominational slogan should be: If you're nothing else, you're baptist.



When will we ever learn?
When will we e-e-yever learn?
(J. Rivers' version)

I think JIm is onto something. If there is a day of reckoning on this (which is possible), I think it will feature a generational scratch-n-claw.

Laura's probably right in her area of the country (Bible belt?), but not in mine. Catholicism and the two megas are on the box marked 'default'.


Eugh. This confirms my desire to liberate my "letter" and hand carry it to my next church home. Does this "letter" really exist? I would like to hold it in my hand.


@Jennifer. Well, I'm in the United Methodist universe and the letter really does exist over here. It's not much of a "letter" but it is a piece of paper with your vitals on it (statistics, not signs, I find lots of the former and very little of the latter in our denom.)


The letter does not exist until another SBC congregation requests it and then they write it and send it. They won't even let you hand carry it. It's all done by mail. If it sounds like I've tried all this, it's only because I have.


When my wife and I joined our last church, they never sent for the letter. Obviously doesn't matter that much then.

Scott Jones

The SBC never deleted all the Alliance and CBF folk that left. Their official number of members never dropped. I understand that they still count us in their rough estimates, presumably in order to keep their numbers up.

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