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More than 1,200 churches left Southern Baptist Convention in 2022

The Southern Baptist Convention lost more than 1,200 churches in 2022, according to the SBC’s 2022 Annual Church Profile, which was released this week by Lifeway Research. The losses in 2022 were an increase from the previous two years, when 1,003 congregations closed and left in 2021 and the SBC lost 1,002 congregations in 2020.

“Every week, the national network of Southern Baptist congregations changes,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Once each year, we take a snapshot of the current Southern Baptist congregations to report national statistics. Later, analysis between annual lists of congregations reveals more details of these constant changes.”

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The primary reason congregations no longer are considered active Southern Baptist congregations is that they cease to exist. Around four in five of the missing congregations disbanded or closed. Aside from the congregations that disbanded or closed with a reason given, most other previously Southern Baptist congregations either left the convention or were disaffiliated.

In May 2023, Lifeway published a report showing that the SBC saw a decline of approximately 457,000 people, which is the largest membership drop in a century. Total SBC membership went from roughly 13.68 million members in 2021 to 13.22 million members in 2022. “457,371 members lost is the largest single-year numerical drop in more than 100 years,” the report said.

The SBC lost 416 member congregations.

“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 at the time. “Membership totals for a congregation immediately reflect additions as well as subtractions due to death or someone removing themselves from membership. But many congregations are slow to remove others who no longer are participating.”

Despite the losses, the reported SBC membership is still more than the approximately seven million reported in 1950 but several million below the peak of roughly 16.3 million people reported in 2006.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice


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