CoverBack page - Kentucky Baptist Convention

web.kybaptist.org

CoverBack page - Kentucky Baptist Convention

Kentucky Baptist Convention

Baptismal Trends

1980 to 2003

Research Conducted by

Rainer Research

A Division of the Rainer Group

Thom S. Rainer

President and Senior Consultant

Sam S. Rainer III

Senior Consultant

August 2004

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


Introduction

Rainer Research, a division of the Rainer Group, was asked by the Kentucky Baptist

Convention (KBC) to analyze and comment upon the baptismal trends from 1980 to

2004. Two major sources of data and research were used in this project. First, the KBC

provided raw data on the total number of baptisms in Southern Baptist churches in the

state. This data also indicated baptisms by seven age groupings.

The second major source of information came from over a decade of data gathering and

research by Rainer Research and its parent company, the Rainer Group. The information

we have gleaned over the past ten years proved especially helpful in this project.

Rainer Research also looked at a similar project conducted by the North American

Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention. 1 This project was published

in 2000 and provided a framework for a similar endeavor with the KBC. Some

differences, however, are obvious between the two research efforts. Both the similarities

and differences will be evident in our report.

Executive Summary

Our report to the KBC will be divided into four major sections. Those sections are the

essence of the executive summary below. We will provide extensive details on each

major point throughout this report.

• The overall baptismal trend in KBC churches is down from over 20,000 in 1980

to 16,500 in 2003. Somewhat encouraging is the fact that total baptisms reached a

low in 1994 of 14,000, and they have not been below 16,000 since 1997.

• The story of KBC baptisms since 1980 is a remarkable tale of two age groups.

Baptisms in the birth-24 age group are down 26 percent from 1980 to 2003.

Baptisms of adults 25 and older are about the same in 2003 as they were in 1980

(from 4,441 to 4,726). In other words, we see the baptismal decline since 1980,

and plateau since 1994 to be attributed largely to one factor: Kentucky Baptist

churches are failing to reach young persons as effectively as they did 23 years

ago. We will examine some of the reasons behind this phenomenon in this report.

Kentucky Baptist churches are losing ground in reaching the population of the

state. In 1980 KBC churches baptized 5.451 persons for every 1000 Kentucky

residents. That number declined to 4.536 in 1990 and to 3.925 in 2003. Again,

much of this lost ground can be explained by the failure of the churches to reach

young persons.

• Unlike the story of Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches, 2 the number of

baptisms in the KBC churches cannot be explained by population changes. Our

correlation analysis yielded a correlation factor of negative 0.00247, almost right

at the zero point of absolutely no correlation. In basic terms, this analysis means

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


that total baptisms in KBC churches are not attributed to increases or decreases in

the population of the state.

The Overall Picture

We begin this analysis with a simple but meaningful grasp of total baptisms in KBC

churches since 1980. The numbers below represents total baptisms:

1980 20,460

1981 20,204

1982 18,776

1983 17,326

1984 16,456

1985 15,315

1986 16,537

1987 14,609

1988 15,235

1989 15,317

1990 16,861

1991 16,832

1992 15,135

1993 14,333

1994 13,395

1995 15,718

1996 15,359

1997 16,365

1998 17,346

1999 17.928

2000 18,143

2001 16,543

2002 17,527

2003 16,543

There are two ways of interpreting this basic data. On the one hand, one can bemoan the

decline of 3,917 annual baptisms from 1980 to 2004, a 19.1% decline. On the other hand,

we see a more positive picture. From 1980 to 1994 baptisms declined 7,065 or 34.5%.

But from 1994 to 2003 baptisms increased 2,210, an increase of 16% in ten years. Still,

the positive news of this increase is tempered by the fact that KBC baptisms have been in

a plateau since 1997.

These trends are depicted in the charts on the following pages. In the first chart the trend

shows a precipitous decline in baptisms from 1980 to 1994. The year 1994 was a clear

breakout point higher numbers of baptisms.

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


Why are Kentucky Baptist churches becoming less effective at reaching young persons?

Although Rainer Research does not have specific surveys on KBC churches, leaders and

congregants, we do have national surveys that provide insights into this issue. Our

conclusions from this research are straightforward.

• Churches are not nearly as intentional about evangelizing young persons as they

were 20 and 30 years earlier. Many programs and emphases have focused on

ministries that do not have a specific evangelistic influence.

• Our research shows that Vacation Bible School continues to be one of the most

effective means of evangelizing young persons. But we are seeing a decline in

such emphases among Southern Baptist and other evangelical churches.

• Many church leaders are rightly concerned theologically about true conversions

among young people who make some type of verbal assent to following Christ.

The solution in many of these churches is to avoid evangelistic efforts among

young people altogether. In other words, the baby is being thrown out with the

bathwater.

• Sunday School has historically been one of the most effective means of reaching

young persons for Christ. Some church leaders, concerned about the twenty-first

century relevancy of Sunday School, have minimized emphasis of it or, in some

cases, abandoned it altogether. Very few churches today see Sunday School as a

key evangelistic tool.

• Pastors are becoming less evangelistically personally. 4 This lack of evangelistic

leadership impacts all age groups, but specifically the very receptive age group of

young persons.

Evangelistic Impact upon the Population

One way to measure evangelistic effectiveness among a group of churches is to

determine the number of baptisms per 1,000 residents. Such data was readily available

from both the KBC and the U.S. Census Bureau. For comparisons purposes, we looked at

baptisms per 1,000 population in several different age groups in 1980, 1990, and 2003.

Baptisms per 1,000 Population

1980 1990 2003

Birth to 17 3.119 2.724 2.214

Birth to 24 4.376 3.594 2.870

9 to 17 2.718 2.249 1.681

25 to 60 1.075 0.942 1.055

All Age Groups 5.451 4.536 3.925

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


While none of the trends are positive, one trend deserves even greater attention. The age

group 9 to 17 (boldfaced in the chart) represents those persons most likely to receive

Christ. In the terminology of Church Growth Movement founder Donald A. McGavran,

they are the most receptive field.

The most disturbing trend is that the baptismal rate in this age group has declined 38%

from 1980 to 2003. Kentucky Baptist churches are reaching less and less of America’s

most receptive group, boys and girls whose ages range from 9 to 17.

Baptisms Correlated to Population Growth

We conclude this report with a brief word about baptisms and the population growth of

the state of Kentucky. One of our surprising findings is that population growth and

decline in the state was not correlated to the number of persons baptized. The correlation

factor of negative 0.00247 is virtually a zero correlation coefficient. Simply stated, the

number of baptisms in KBC churches was unrelated to population growth and decline in

the state of Kentucky.

This finding complements a previous study by Rainer Research that showed relocating a

church to high-growth area could increase the growth rate of the church, but only by

transfer growth. 5 Conversion growth did not automatically increase with population

growth. Though our conclusion may seem oversimplified, we have found that the best

way to increase baptisms is to have more people sharing the gospel. Innovations and

cutting-edge methodologies are good; but if they are not accompanied by passionate soul

winning and a breaking heart for lost people, baptisms will not increase. Simply stated, it

is time Southern Baptist, Kentucky Baptist, and evangelical churches returned to the

basics.

Notes

1 “Baptisms.” Strategic Planning Indicators. A Publication of the Strategic Planning Support, North

American Mission Board, SBC, Number 2, Summer 2000.

2 The NAMB report (see note 1 above) concluded the following: “The conclusion is that increases or

decreases of baptisms in any age group are more a function of population shifts in the Untied States than of

change in the way Southern Baptist churches are emphasizing or implementing evangelism.”

3 Based on surveys of 1,348 professing Christians. Surveys done 2001-2004. Rainer Research, a division of

the Rainer Group.

4 Rainer Research’s survey of 314 pastors in 2004 found that 48% had not witnessed to anyone in the past

three months.

5 See Thom S. Rainer, Effective Evangelistic Churches. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1996.

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


About Rainer Research

Rainer Research is a division of the Rainer Group, Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky. The

Rainer Group began in 1988 under the name Church Growth Visions. In 2003 the

company was named the outstanding church and denominational company in the world.

Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of the Rainer Group. He is the author or coauthor

on 17 books on the church and related areas, and he has written over 250 articles.

Dr. Rainer also serves as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and

Church Growth at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and as president of Church

Central Associates.

Sam S. Rainer III serves as senior consultant of the Rainer Group. An honors graduate in

finance and marketing, he provides cutting-edge financial and statistical analysis of

churches and denominations. He also serves as a field consultant for churches on behalf

of the Rainer Group.

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


Appendix

Census Population and Intercensal Population Estimates, 1980-2003

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division

Kentucky

Population Baptisms

Census 1980 3,660,334 20,460

1981 3,670,395 20,204

1982 3,683,449 18,776

1983 3,694,469 17,326

1984 3,695,459 16,456

Intercensal Estimates (July 1) 1985 3,694,816 15,315

1986 3,687,805 16,537

1987 3,683,330 14,609

1988 3,680,002 15,235

1989 3,677,318 15,317

Census 1990 3,686,892 16,861

1991 3,722,328 16,832

1992 3,765,469 15,134

1993 3,812,206 14,333

1994 3,849,088 13,935

Intercensal Estimates (July 1) 1995 3,887,427 15,718

1996 3,919,535 15,359

1997 3,952,747 16,365

1998 3,985,390 17,346

1999 4,018,053 17,928

Census 2000 4,041,769 18,143

2001 4,067,336 16,543

Intercensal Estimates (July 1) 2002 4,089,822 17,527

2003 4,117,827 16,543

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


Kentucky Baptist Convention Baptisms 1980-2003: Age Breakout

Report

year birth - 5 6 - 8 9 - 11 12 - 17 18 - 24 25 - 34 35 - 60

Reported

Total

1980 48 1,422 4,374 5,574 4,601 3,434 503 20,460

1981 48 1,312 4,305 5,626 4,663 3,407 496 20,204

1982 65 1,307 3,992 5,244 4,121 3,259 533 18,776

1983 71 1,364 3,363 4,569 3,914 3,255 514 17,326

1984 58 1,219 3,392 4,372 3,606 3,105 487 16,456

1985 37 1,287 3,138 4,104 3,069 2,835 422 15,315

1986 60 1,405 3,537 4,402 3,274 2,967 511 16,537

1987 55 1,401 3,068 3,754 2,895 2,665 433 14,609

1988 67 1,428 3,300 3,970 2,873 2,849 541 15,235

1989 43 1,576 3,413 4,026 2,841 2,811 435 15,317

1990 57 1,697 3,858 4,437 3,208 3,009 463 16,861

1991 138 1,703 3,751 4,328 3,252 3,058 482 16,832

1992 69 1,528 3,224 4,001 2,876 2,996 397 15,134

1993 69 1,602 3,155 3,727 2,549 2,760 449 14,333

1994 71 1,509 2,717 4,253 2,494 2,629 408 13,935

1995 88 1,694 3,197 3,837 2,529 2,966 459 15,718

1996 111 1,804 3,011 3,746 2,708 3,274 459 15,359

1997 91 1,824 3,206 4,134 2,847 3,671 485 16,365

1998 91 1,952 3,313 4,340 2,892 3,777 543 17,346

1999 154 2,019 3,539 4,188 2,955 3,969 682 17,928

2000 116 2,123 3,585 4,288 3,028 4,224 704 18,143

2001 109 1,888 3,297 3,633 2,772 3,873 552 16,543

2002 69 2,007 3,323 3,940 2,818 4,036 637 17,527

2003 123 2,072 3,348 3,574 2,700 3,766 575 16,543

Average 80 1,631 3,434 4,253 3,145 3,275 507 16,617

Minimum 37 1,219 2,717 3,574 2,494 2,629 397 13,935

Maximum 154 2,123 4,374 5,626 4,663 4,224 704 20,460

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


Projections: Kentucky Baptisms through 2025

Total Projections through 2025 (in bold)

Linear Trend (1980 - 2003)

y = -58.398x + 17347

1980 20,460

1981 20,204

1982 18,776

1983 17,326

1984 16,456

1985 15,315

1986 16,537

1987 14,609

1988 15,235

1989 15,317

1990 16,861

1991 16,832

1992 15,134

1993 14,333

1994 13,935

1995 15,718

1996 15,359

1997 16,365

1998 17,346

1999 17,928

2000 18,143

2001 16,543

2002 17,527

2003 16,543

2004 17,289

2005 17,230

2006 17,172

2007 17,113

2008 17,055

2009 16,997

2010 16,938

2011 16,880

2012 16,821

2013 16,763

2014 16,705

2015 16,646

2016 16,588

2017 16,529

2018 16,471

2019 16,413

2020 16,354

2021 16,296

2022 16,237

2023 16,179

2024 16,121

2025 16,062

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


Projections: Kentucky Baptisms through 2025

Birth to 24 Projections through 2025 (in bold)

Linear Trend (1980 - 2003)

y = -104.17x + 13844

1980 16,019

1981 15,954

1982 14,729

1983 13,281

1984 12,647

1985 11,635

1986 12,678

1987 11,173

1988 11,638

1989 11,899

1990 13,257

1991 13,172

1992 11,698

1993 11,102

1994 11,044

1995 11,345

1996 11,380

1997 12,102

1998 12,588

1999 12,855

2000 13,140

2001 11,699

2002 12,157

2003 11,817

2004 13,740

2005 13,636

2006 13,531

2007 13,427

2008 13,323

2009 13,219

2010 13,115

2011 13,011

2012 12,906

2013 12,802

2014 12,698

2015 12,594

2016 12,490

2017 12,386

2018 12,281

2019 12,177

2020 12,073

2021 11,969

2022 11,865

2023 11,761

2024 11,656

2025 11,552

Copyright 2004 Kentucky Baptist Convention. All rights reserved.


P.O. Box 43433, Louisville, KY 40253-0433

(502) 245-4101 or (800) 266-6477

www.kybaptist.org