Commentary: God’s not done with the SBC


Mark Hallock, pastor at Calvary Church in Englewood, Colo., and a member of the Replant Team, wrote a book several years ago called God’s Not Done with Your Church. In it, he reminds leaders and members of dying and declining churches that God still has a plan for their church. Even when things haven’t looked great for several years, God can still use these churches to reach their communities.

In the same way, we believe that, even with all the struggles the SBC has faced over the past several years, God is not done with this convention of churches.

We recently posted a blog from Mark Clifton about the concerning reality that, between 2021 and 2022, the SBC lost 1,200 churches. Well, a few short days after we posted that article, new statistics were released from the 2023 Annual Church Profile (ACP).

In these latest statistics, we learned that we lost 292 churches between 2022 and 2023. While we lament any time we hear that a church has closed its doors, the fact that this number represents less than a 1% decline in the number of congregations is encouraging.

Additionally, the ACP data showed that baptisms increased by nearly 26%, and total weekly worship attendance topped 4 million for the first time since the pandemic hit in 2020. On top of all this, Southern Baptists gave more than $10 billion in undesignated giving and almost $800 million to missions.

The SBC is not perfect. We continue to wrestle with significant doctrinal issues. We continue to wrestle with the best ways to respond to the sexual abuse that has happened within our churches over the past several decades. Sadly, we continue to experience the fallout from moral failings of pastors and denominational leaders.

No, we are not perfect. But, rest assured, God is not done with the SBC. He is still using this collection of almost 47,000 autonomous churches to reach their communities, states, our nation and the world with the saving power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The reality remains that we have somewhere between 80-90% of our churches that are in need of some form of revitalization. And around 15-20% of those churches are in danger of closing their doors in the next three to five years if nothing changes.

And yet, over the past 10 years, we have seen thousands of churches that have recovered their first love, as John’s letter to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2 reminds us. Church buildings where doors were once closed are seeing new congregations planted. Churches that were on the brink of death have seen new life and ministry as God’s people have sought His face and turned their hearts toward their communities once again. Churches that were plateaued have been reignited with a renewed passion for seeing Jesus save the lost in their neighborhoods.

While we are indeed thankful for the faithfulness and courage of pastors and church members to make hard but necessary changes in their congregation, the glory and honor for all of this belongs to Christ Jesus, the head of the Church, alone.

As current SBC president Bart Barber wrote, “The credit for the burgeoning evangelistic vigor among Southern Baptists belongs to God the Spirit, who is doing the work of conviction and conversion that Jesus promised.”

Amen! We pray that God will continue to save sinners through the power of the gospel, and that He will graciously allow Southern Baptists to be a part of that.

God’s not done with the SBC!


Dr. Kyle Bueerman is a Rural Specialist for the Replant Team of the North American Mission Board.