California ranks in the top 10 for baptisms

Published Jul 01, 2011

Even though the number of baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention fell by nearly 5 percent in 2010, California Southern Baptist Convention churches reported an 18.5 percent increase, ranking CSBC among the top 10 Baptist state conventions.

In 2010, CSBC churches registered 14,377 baptisms, an increase of 2,242, or 18.5 percent, over the previous year. The baptism figure places CSBC at number 10 among the 42 Baptist state conventions and fellowships. The statistics were tabulated from the Annual Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources.

Southern Baptist churches reported 332,321 baptisms in 2010, down from 349,737 in 2009, a 4.98 percent decline.

Randy McWhorter, CSBC healthy church group leader who directs evangelism strategies for California Baptists, said, “I praise God for the harvest He has given us in 2010. With just over half of our churches reporting we have seen an 18.5 percent increase in the number of people our churches baptized last year. I believe the increases are a result of our churches placing evangelism at the forefront of ministry.”

McWhorter also believes the national God’s Plan for Sharing strategy added to the increase, saying, “In 2010 CSBC churches distributed 1.3 million gospel drop-in pieces as part of our national GPS initiative. And, we seeded the gospel with hundreds of television commercials throughout California.

“We did our best to encourage every pastor and church in our Convention to reach out to every person within the church’s ministry field,” McWhorter added. “I believe that our baptism increase could well be the result of our efforts to reach ‘Across California’ to tell everyone about Jesus.”

McWhorter also said he also believes God’s promises are “forever true” and quoted Psalm 126:6, “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”

“I am praying that the increase in the number of baptisms in 2010 is just the beginning of a decade that sees California Southern Baptists reach more people than ever before,”

McWhorter said. “Every person in California can hear the gospel if every believer will share the gospel. I’m believing that God will continue to bless our evangelistic efforts as we continue to pray for the lost, sow the gospel seed, equip believers to share their faith and conduct evangelistic events designed to call people to commit their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord.”

Fermín A. Whittaker, CSBC executive director, said, “I’m excited to see that our churches are doing more in the area of evangelism. This figure demonstrates that California Southern Baptists continue to be on mission and are impacting the lostness of our state.

“Our churches are living up to our mission statement of fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment so that every man, woman, boy and girl in our state might hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Whittaker said.

State leader for baptisms was Florida Baptists with 46,937 reported for 2010 and followed by the Baptist General Convention of Texas (35,780), Georgia (29,672), North Carolina (23,545), Southern Baptists of Texas (21,609), Tennessee (21,032), Alabama (19,936), South Carolina (16,327) and Kentucky (15,762).

Total SBC membership in 2010, reported at 16,136,044, represents a 0.15 percent decline from 2009 and is the fourth straight year of decline.

In California total membership for 2010 was 394,529, down 1,963 from the previous year’s total of 396,492.

Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said he was “saddened to see this report which seems to indicate a lack of passion for winning our world to the Lord.

“I am convinced that we are doing many good things but will see this situation change only when the churches and people of the SBC return evangelism to the top priority of our Kingdom activities.”

The report did, however, indicate a key positive change: The number of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention rose to 45,727, an increase of 1.59 percent from the 45,010 reported in 2009. California increased its number of churches from 1,628 in 2009 to 1,664 in 2010, an increase of 36, or 2.2 percent.

Joe De Leon, leader of the CSBC church starting group, noted that “starting more churches will definitely impact the number of recorded baptisms. The fact is that new churches tend to baptize more per capita than established congregations.”