SBC task force suggests five solutions for baptism decline

Meredith Flynn —  May 13, 2014
Sonja Conrad was baptized during a spring crusade at First Baptist Church, O'Fallon, Ill.

Sonja Conrad was baptized during a spring crusade at First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, Ill.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

A task force appointed to study declining baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention released its report May 12, detailing five problems they believe have contributed to the recent downward trend. The task force, appointed last year by the North American Mission Board and comprised mostly of pastors, also suggested five solutions focused on prayer, evangelism and discipleship.

When it was published in June 2013, the Annual Church Profile (ACP) report showing the previous year’s facts and figures sounded several alarm bells: 25% of Southern Baptist churches reported zero baptisms. And 60% of churches baptized no one in the 12-17 age bracket.

“We have a spiritual problem,” the task force acknowledged in its report. “Many of our SBC pastors and churches are not effectively engaged in sharing the gospel and yet continue business as usual. We need a sense of brokenness and repentance over the spiritual climate of our churches and our nation.”

Churches also need to get back to celebrating baptisms, the group said. “Many of our churches have chosen to celebrate other things as a measure of their success rather than new believers following Christ in baptism. We have drifted into a loss of expectation.”

To address the decline, the task force suggested five focus areas for pastors that correlate to five problem areas (spiritual, leadership, discipleship, next generation, and celebration):

1. Pray for spiritual awakening.

2. Model personal evangelism and provide pathways. (NAMB has introduced a new evangelism tool called “3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide.)

3. Create a disciple-making culture.

4. Serve the next generation.

5. Celebrate evangelism and baptism.

“…We encourage our fellow SBC pastors to join us in owning this problem,” the task force said. “Together, we can seize this opportunity to lead our churches and be part of the solution.”

For more on the task force’s report, evangelism tools, and a new video challenge, go to

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Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.