Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. As if there isn’t enough of that about secularism.

As Christian Century reports, Thom Rainer of the Southern Baptist Convention has research showing that only 15% of millennials call themselves Christian:

The SBC, which considers baptism a key marker of Christian faith and also denominational vitality, tallied 314,959 baptisms in 2012 — a low not seen since 1948.

“It’s a sad situation,” said Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “In 1948 we had 6 million members of the SBC but today we have (nearly) 16 million members.”

Yet, Rainer called himself an “obnoxious optimist.” Although his research on the nation’s 80 million “millennials” (born between 1980 and 2000) shows that only 15 percent call themselves Christian, Rainer said those youth are “on fire” for faith.

It’d be interesting to know what “call themselves Christians” meant in this study – did it count if they checked the Baptist (or Lutheran or Catholic or whatever) box, or did they have to say they’ve accepted Jesus as their savior and sought baptism? It doesn’t say.

Whatever the def, by my calculation, Rainer’s study shows that the SBC Baptists had about 19 members for each baptism in 1948, but now they have about 51 members for each baptism. And we all know that the societal trends affecting Baptists are affecting all of us – I suspect the numbers in many of our churches would show similar declines.

And here’s Cathy Lynn Grossman over at RNS on sliding baptism rates.


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