A Case Of Too Much Information, Perhaps?
Our state Baptist newspaper, The Alabama Baptist, which is arguably the finest in the nation, published a most interesting display last week. It is entitled "Major Religious Families .. by counties in Alabama in 2010", and shows numbers of congregations, attendees, members, "adherents" .. I have no idea what those are .. and percentages of population and of attendees.
They were also good enough to list those numbers including all the "Major Religious Families", but the article also listed, separately, the totals for the SBC churches in those same counties.
Now, I'm a bit of a fanatic on the subject of how few of our members actually attend church, and saw this display as a real gold mine of information. But I'm also lazy and didn't feel like putting all however-many counties' worth of information into my computer, so I selected the Birmingham, Shelby County, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa areas on which to focus. And I put their numbers into my handy spreadsheet program. After entering both the totals for "major religious families", and the SBC totals, I had the spreadsheet subtract out the SBC totals.
See, for years, I've heard that the SBC attendance percentages are no worse than anybody else's. That all the denominations are as bad as we are at getting our members to attend. Well, I figured this would be one way, right here in the heart of the Bible belt, and SBC Nation, to check and see. To compare the SBC numbers vs the remainder of whoever it is that comprises those "Major Religious Families".
Here's the Chart I came up with:
If my logic, data entry, spreadsheet, etc are all correct, then the fact is that right here in Alabama, the percentage of members who are also attendees, in SBC churches, seems to be substantially worse than that of the other denominations included in the survey .. which was conducted and published by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies in the 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations and Membership Study.
We've had a committee studying our name. We've got a committee studying how to get the folks on the two sides of the non-Calvinist vs Calvinist divide to stop fighting. For all I know, we've got committees studying other things, too. But, to my knowledge, we don't have a committee studying why we are less successful at getting our members to come to church than other church organizations?
Isn't that part of fulfilling the Great Commission? Making disciples?