According to a new study by Lifeway Research, almost half a million members departed from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2022. The report reveals that the number of members in the SBC dropped from 13.68 million to 13.2 million in a year. The SBC, which is the largest Baptist denomination in the world, has been the focus of multiple controversies in recent times which include leadership problems, social justice issues and scandals relating to sex abuse. Further, 416 churches and 165 “church-type” missions have also left SBC. However, there has been an increase in SBC church attendance in comparison to the time during the COVID-19 pandemic when church attendance was low.
Christian Headlines reports:
A new report by Lifeway Research suggests that the Southern Baptist Convention lost nearly half a million members in 2022.
The report, released on Tuesday, revealed that the SBC had 13.2 million members last year, a 457,371 drop from 2021, when it had 13.68 million members.
According to the Annual Church Profile compiled by Lifeway, this membership decline is the largest drop in over a century.
In 2016, the SBC peaked with 16.3 million members, but by 2018, it had lost 1.5 million members. Since 2006, the denomination has lost more than 3 million members. Membership is currently the lowest it’s been since the 1970s.
According to Religion News Service, the world’s largest Baptist denomination has been the subject of several controversies in recent years, including sex abuse scandals, social justice issues and leadership problems.
Lifeway Research executive director Scott McConnell noted that the delayed updating of membership records has a lot to do with the drastic decline in membership numbers.
“Much of the downward movement we are seeing in membership reflects people who stopped participating in an individual congregation years ago and the record keeping is finally catching up,” McConnell said in a statement.
The SBC also lost 416 churches and another 165 “church-type” missions.
Despite the decline in congregants, SBC church attendance has recovered from the hit it took during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing by 5 percent to 3.8 million in 2022 after dropping from 4.4 million in 2020.
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