These stats were posted at Thom Rainer’s blog.
Montana: 14.9 members for 1 baptism ratio
New York: 15.4 members for 1 baptism ratio
New England: 15.5 members for 1 baptism ratio
Dakota: 15.7 members for 1 baptism ratio
Iowa: 15.7 members for 1 baptism ratio
Pennsylvania-South Jersey: 16.9 members for 1 baptism ratio
Alabama: 59.2 members for 1 baptism ratio
North Carolina: 59.3 members for 1 baptism ratio
Texas: 65.2 members for 1 baptism ratio
I’ve not been able to source these stats other than in Thom’s blog, and he’s quoting an unnamed source, but he’s enough of an expert in his own right that these are surely correct.
Obviously, according to the stats, the deeper into the Bible Belt one goes, the less effective the church will be in terms of baptisms. In fact, a member of a Texan church is about 25% as likely to convert someone as a member of a church in the Northeastern US, which is notoriously unchurched. This seems backwards somehow.
I have some theories, but wonder what the readers think. Is it that —
- Texas and other Southern states are so churched that members don’t know enough unchurched people to be as evangelistically effective?
- Is it that having a church on nearly every corner takes away the feeling of urgency to convert the lost?
- Is it the prevalence of the prosperity gospel? Some other false teaching?
- Is it that the church leadership is so busy dealing with the demands of a big church that they don’t think to preach evangelism?
- Is that the Southern churches are older and hence have powerful internal constituencies that resist needed change?
- Is it something else?
What do you think?