EDITOR'S NOTE: Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, reports on results from SBC church plants started in 2010.
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- All church planters are special to us, but the church planting "Class of 2010" gets some additional attention and scrutiny because in that year we began reporting on Southern Baptist church plants in some new ways.
In 2010 Southern Baptist churches planted a total of 943 new churches.
Each of the new churches has an SBC ID number which allows for year-to-year tracking as they report through the Annual Church Profile. The ACP is a self-reporting tool and not every church responds, but it's the best statistical tool Southern Baptists have right now.
So, according to ACP, how is the Class of 2010 doing? We think pretty well so far. Here are some key indicators from the 2012 ACP, the last full year of reporting available:
-- Survival rate -- Of the 943 churches Southern Baptists planted in 2010, 856 -- 91 percent -- are still in operation.
-- Membership -- 2010 church plants saw a membership gain of 20 percent in 2012 over 2011. This is while membership across all SBC churches declined 0.66 percent.
-- Attendance -- Worship attendance also is growing among church plants -- an 11 percent increase in 2012 compared to 2011. At the same time, across all SBC churches, worship attendance fell 3 percent.
-- Baptisms -- Planting evangelistic churches is the best way to reach people for Christ. The Class of 2010 reported 3,394 baptisms. Among all SBC churches there is a ratio of one baptism for every 50 members. For the class of 2010 it's 1:12.
-- Giving -- We are also encouraged that the Class of 2010 continues to give more each year -- including to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings. Total missions giving for those churches that reported was $2.9 million.
We will have a more complete picture after these churches reach the five-year point, but these initial numbers are encouraging and show us that new churches are a key part of reaching people for Christ and expanding God's Kingdom. Please keep our church planters and their congregations in your prayers. There are still many challenges ahead for them as they push back lostness in difficult places.
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