Southern Baptists Shrinking While Pentecostal Denomination Explodes

The Southern Baptist denomination is declining.
The Southern Baptist denomination is declining. (Flickr)

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the country, but it continues to lose members and baptize fewer people each year.

The latest statistics, compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources from church reports, show membership has dropped by more than 204,000, down 1.3 percent to 15.3 million members in 2015. It's the ninth year in a row there has been a membership decline.

Baptisms, which have declined eight of the last 10 years, totaled 295,212, a 3.3 percent drop, researchers said Tuesday (June 7).

"God help us all! In a world that is desperate for the message of Christ, we continue to be less diligent in sharing the Good News," said SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Assemblies of God, the world's largest Pentecostal denomination, is continuing to see increases in this country. The latest statistics, compiled using reports from its churches and released last week, show a 1.4 percent rise in U.S. adherents to 3,192,112 in 2015, up from 3,146,741 in 2014.

Hartford Seminary sociologist of religion Scott Thumma said changes in denominational totals are driven by such factors as birthrate, retention of children as they reach adulthood, and immigration. He said the Assemblies of God are benefiting from immigration — particularly from Central and South America as well as Africa — much more than the Southern Baptist Convention.

Thumma said some of the drop in SBC membership may be due to a growing preference for nondenominational congregations.

"Nondenominational churches have most of the same characteristics in terms of theology and worship style as SBC churches but without the denominational baggage of its reputation or pronouncements," he said.

The Pew Research Center said in 2015 that the share of evangelical Protestants who identify with Baptist denominations has decreased since 2007 from 41 percent to 36 percent while the percentage identifying with nondenominational churches has increased from 13 to 19 percent. 

© 2016 Religion News Service. All rights reserved.

Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Incredible Savings, Inspiration and Encouragement from CHARISMA:

  • End Of The Year - Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!
  • Big Discounts On Book Bundles & Gifts: Click Here to view all our bundles and save up to 72%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, and more.
  • FREE eCourses by CHARISMA: Click Here to view all eight of our free courses. Topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Women Of God: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Prayer Changes Everything! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for two years for Only $29.97 and get two free gifts. Gift #1 Chayil by John Eckhardt. Gift #2 Chosen by Michelle McClain-Walters. View Offer

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective