Secular culture is benefiting the Church

Secular culture is benefiting the Church

Secular culture is benefiting the Church

Southern Baptist leaders are "ecstatic" that baptisms and attendance are up in the denomination, nearing pre-pandemic levels.

According to Lifeway Christian Resources' most recent Annual Church Profile, Southern Baptist churches reportedly baptized about 227,000 people in 2023 – a nearly 26% increase over the previous year. Attendance was up, too, passing 4 million in 2023 for the first time since the pandemic.

Barber, Bart (SBC) Barber

"The figures that are up are the figures that are the most reliably reported," notes Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Bart Barber. "They're the ones that we watch the most closely. And the figures that are down are the ones that we're least worried about. It's very good news. We're ecstatic."

The total number of churches affiliated with the SBC decreased by 292, but that was less than a 1% drop.

"Part of it is recovery from the pandemic," Barber notes. "Obviously, we had people just a few years ago who were saying that the pandemic had changed things forever. What lasts forever is the power of the gospel."

He says secular America is not living up to its promises, and people are seeing their need for God.

"In a world, in a culture that has abandoned its roots in Christian thought and the gospel, [it's] not serving anybody well," the SBC president observes. "People are not happier, people are not leading better lives for having moved away from faith."

The Church, he says, ironically stands to benefit from secular culture, where it is increasingly more difficult to be a cultural Christian or halfhearted in ministry.

"The people that we have who are coming into ministry now, they know that there's a price to be paid, but they believe in the gospel," says Barber. "They have not just a shallow commitment; they have a deep commitment to proclaiming the gospel and to seeing people come to faith in Christ."

These figures were released just a month before the SBC's annual meeting and pastors' conference June 9-12 in Indianapolis.