Robert Walker said nothing out of the ordinary is going on at his church — just personal, one-on-one contact with the community.
“We reached out to a couple of families, and they had some members in their family who were interested in church,” said Walker, pastor of Gateway Ministries, Selma. “We talked to them about their spiritual condition and about their walk with the Lord, and they received Christ.”
That kind of intentional evangelism, as Walker called it, is why the church of around 40 ended up at the top of Alabama’s list for baptism ratio on this year’s Annual Church Profile report. The small congregation reached out, shared their faith and last year ended up baptizing one person for every 1.4 existing church member.
“We’re elated about it,” Walker said. “The Lord has just really blessed us. We give Him all the glory.”
Bobby DuBois, associate executive director for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said it can be easy to think numbers don’t matter, that there’s not a positive purpose for a church submitting ACP data.
But the ACP is “far more than numbers,” he said — it helps tell the story of what God is doing in the state and identify trends that help with missions strategy and other planning.
For example, associations use the information to help strengthen their churches, DuBois noted. “They can spot trends, identify ministry areas where churches need help or use the information to target particular churches with training opportunities.”
It can help churches identify their own trends too.
“A church long-range planning committee may ask about information on their church that could help them analyze their own congregation’s ministries,” DuBois said. “Most churches don’t have annual data covering the past decade or two of ministry in a format that is easily accessible. The ACP provides that detailed information that can be sent to the committee the same day electronically.”
And by using ACP data, churches can find new ways to do effective ministry, DuBois said.
“A church leader trying to help his church be more effective in ministry may ask the SBOM for a list of churches similar in size who are doing exemplary work in an area so they can contact the churches to see what has or hasn’t worked for them,” he explained. “It is a way for churches to learn from and help other churches.”
It can also help churches that are looking for a pastor, DuBois said. “A pastor search committee may ask for information on the church where a pastoral candidate is serving.”
This issue of TAB includes some highlights of the state’s total data for 2019, and the reports of every church’s giving and baptisms are now available online at tabonline.org/2019ACP. Churches that did not complete an ACP will see blanks in their baptism listing.
In the 1990s, just more than 9 out of 10 Alabama Baptist churches submitted their ACP information, but in 2019 that number was only 8 out of 10.
“The gap of 10 less percentage points represents a decrease of over 350 churches submitting data,” DuBois lamented. “The decrease hinders our ability at all levels of Baptist life to provide valuable information to ministry partners that can help strengthen our churches and associations. The ACP is far more than numbers.”
The article “Annual Church Profile Report Helps Churches, Associations Be More Effective in Ministry” was first published at thealabamabaptist.org.