Southern Baptists see decline in number of congregations

The Southern Baptist Convention faces not only declining membership but also fewer churches to attract potential new members.

According to Lifeway Research’s analysis of the 2022 Annual Church Profile of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1,253 congregations that were part of the convention in 2021 were no longer connected in 2022. This is the most recent ACP data available.

Among the 50,423 active congregations in the Southern Baptist Convention in 2021, 2 percent disbanded or closed and 0.5 percent left or were disaffiliated from the convention by the time the 2022 data was compiled. Some churches were planted, but the SBC saw 416 fewer churches and 165 fewer church-type missions in 2022 than in 2021.

The primary reason congregations are no longer considered active Southern Baptist congregations is that they cease to exist. Around 4 in 5 of the missing congregations (79 percent) disbanded/closed, leaving Southern Baptists with 984 fewer congregations.

Within that group, 813 (83 percent) closed. Another 136 (14 percent) merged into another Southern Baptist congregation. Aside from the congregations that disbanded/closed with a reason given, most other previously Southern Baptist congregations either left the convention or were disaffiliated (228, or 18 percent).