Numbers a cause for celebration and concern

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chuck-quoteJesus said, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Last week’s Western Recorder featured an article celebrating 26,567 membership additions claimed by Kentucky Baptist Convention churches through our Southern Baptist reporting system known as the Annual Church Profile (ACP). That number is eye-catching when you consider it exceeds the populations of cities like Ashland and Paducah, the regional hubs of eastern and western Kentucky. We have seen enough people added to our churches to fully populate a mid-size Kentucky city.

Hillvue Heights Church in Bowling Green led the state last year with 571 baptisms. Valley View Church in Louisville was second with 142. Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown reported 108. And First Baptist Church in Somerset reported 102.

We’re truly humbled to see the Lord bless the work of our churches in every part of Kentucky, whether tiny rural communities or large urban centers. KBC is by far the Commonwealth’s largest religious organization with some 750,000 members.

In actuality, the numbers of people baptized or transferring their membership into KBC churches is even higher but, since hundreds of our churches do not consistently submit an ACP, we have no way of knowing the final count. Nevertheless, as Kentucky Baptists, we are rejoicing over the nearly 14,000 baptisms that were reported and are also grateful for every church member added to a congregation by transfer.

While we celebrate those numbers, Chuck McAlister, who leads the KBC Evangelism and Church Planting team, was quick to point out to me that we also have reason to be concerned. This year’s baptisms were down from last year and our overall membership totals, when we account for deaths and those who left our churches, continue to decline.

In his book, I am a Church Member, Thom Rainer writes, “I am suggesting that congregations across America are weak because many of us church members have lost the biblical understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.” He argues that until we who are church members begin taking our responsibilities seriously, our membership seriously, we should not expect to see a turnaround from the precipitous decline of Christianity in North America.

McAlister said it like this: “Until we are genuinely broken over the lostness of our state, things will continue to get worse. What we need is heaven-sent revival, the kind that only comes from godly sorrow and repentance.”

We are praying for that kind of revival to fall upon our state and nation. Apart from a movement of God, no hope will be found for our country. Will you pray with us?


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