During December and January, I visited my home. I spoke at some churches and did a little research about the association. You can see a map of where the churches in the association are located in my post Mapping Out. Here are some of the key findings.
In 2008 the average number of baptisms during the year per church was seven. In 2009 baptisms fell to and average of six per church for the year.
In all there were just over 600 baptisms for the entire association in 2009, down over a hundred from the year before. This in an area that encompasses nearly a million people. Worse, more than 300 of those baptisms came from just 13 churches. That means the median number of baptisms (the point at which the same number of churches baptized more as baptized less) was just two.
From 2008 to 2009 there was a net loss of three churches. One church was planted, four closed their doors for good. There are 115 churches in the association. More than 20 did not report a single baptism in 2009.
I spoke with the acting director of missions of the association and at least half a dozen pastors in the association. They tell me that these numbers are both bad and representative of the entire convention.
Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging with respect to changing this trend. Churches should be baptizing weekly and planting daughter churches regularly. Where this is not happening churches are sinfully neglect. It is time to return to the hard work of evangelism and the costly call to discipleship.