SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — In a Baptist Press story on Tuesday ( June 7), we were informed of the most recent Annual Church Profile (or ACP), where churches report their own statistics. So how are we really doing as Southern Baptists? I want to give you a few thoughts about our statistics from the compiled ACP from the churches who reported.
What did we learn about ourselves?
Statistics are our friends, but they do not always tell the entire story about who we are. Yet, what do we learn?
Positive things we learn
1. The number of churches is growing. This is an outstanding reality and we need to celebrate it. In 2014, we had 46,499 churches and 4,595 mission churches for a total of 51,094 congregations. In our 2015 reporting, we now have 46,793 churches and 4,648 mission churches for a total of 51,441 congregations. Planting gospel churches is biblical and important for our future together and does not need to be minimized.
2. Our present giving through the national Cooperative Program is increasing. Aside from the ACP report, we have learned some great news about our national Cooperative Program giving, which funds our unified Great Commission ministries statewide, nationally and internationally. From October 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016, our giving through the Cooperative Program in our allocation budget has increased in the first eight months of this fiscal year from $128,551,618 to $131,956,901. This is an increase of $3,405,283 or 2.65 percent from our prior year.
With a projected budget of $186,500,000 for the SBC budget, we had an increase of $7,623,568 given to date in this same period of time, for an increase of 6.13 percent from the prior year.
This is an extraordinary turnaround and we give God the glory! We do not need to minimize this but celebrate it! Churches are giving more money through our Cooperative Program and more than one-half of our state conventions are forwarding more money from the states for our national and international work together.
3. Our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions was our largest in history.
In the 127-year history of our churches giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, this was our highest ever. Our Southern Baptist churches gave a total of $165.8 million through our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This is an increase from just over $153 million last year, which means Southern Baptists gave $12.8 million (or 7.6 percent) more to international missions over last year. By the way, our highest offering in history prior to this was $154 million.
Southern Baptists responded to our missionaries coming home by giving willingly, voluntarily and sacrificially because they want people on the ground across the world and our mission force strong. This giving explosion to Lottie Moon is an encouraging response to our crisis of bringing home more than 1,000 missionaries last year.
4. Our Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions is encouraging.
Since this offering was just received in late March, we will have a much better sense of where we are by the end of the summer. However, to God’s glory at this point, we are 20.81 percent or $6,052,063 ahead over last year.
Our churches are stepping up with a stronger commitment to push back on lostness in North America.
So let’s be encouraged, God is at work through our churches and in our work together.