New research undermines an often-repeated statistic about church decline, but still reveals a difficult situation for Southern Baptist churches — and an opportunity to encourage more Gospel conversations.

On his website, LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer has published findings from research of 1,000 randomly selected Southern Baptist churches, including challenging the idea that 80 percent of churches are either plateaued or declining. The new findings are based on analysis of Annual Church Profile data from 2013 and 2016.

Unfortunately, the research doesn’t give a much better picture, Rainer reports. His analysis found around 65 percent of churches are stalled or are shrinking.

“The evangelistic deterioration within churches across North America has been a reality for several decades. This is not new information,” Rainer said, “but we wanted to find out the degree of the deterioration.”

Even among the 35 percent of churches that are growing, the signs are not all positive.

“Growing churches are primarily growing through transfer growth,” he said. “If we look at which churches are actually healthy from an evangelistic perspective, it’s only about 6 or 7 out of 100.”

Rainer will continue to release new information on his website,, including insights into those 6-7 percent of churches that have been effective at evangelizing their communities.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Baptist Press
Aaron Earls