How does your church measure up?
By David Clippard
MBC Executive Director
September 16, 2004
From time to time I run across people who think keeping statistical records about the church is not spiritual. But I believe God is very interested in numbers. After all, there is an entire book of the Bible that’s even given that title – Numbers.
I think all of us realize that God measures the effectiveness of each of His churches. Some churches may be reluctant about evaluations, but every believer (Prov. 20:11; Mt. 12:35-37) and every church is analyzed by God everyday. In the Book of Revelation, He evaluated seven different congregations and found words of praise and judgment regarding each of them.
How will your church family match up with the Lord’s evaluation in the current church year? The Annual Church Profile (ACP) is a Southern Baptist tool that offers congregations and our convention the opportunity for some self-evaluation. The ACP is like a mirror reflection that annually allows us to step back and see how our local churches, associations and state conventions are doing from various perspectives. Allow me to speak from a couple of perspectives which allow us to see how we are doing collectively.
In January each year, congregations with the highest percentage of baptisms per average Sunday School attendance are recognized by the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) at the State Evangelism Conference. This last year, one of our churches had an exceptionally blessed year in terms of baptisms according to their ACP. However, the church failed to turn in their ACP information in a timely way. Thus, we were not aware of the Lord’s blessings until they told us after the list of congregations to be recognized was published and recognitions were made. It did not take away any of the souls reached, but it did take away an opportunity for all of us to rejoice in the blessings God gave that church family. We all need encouragement. I rejoice and am personally encouraged when I learn of the good fortune of others!
ACP data that your church sends is important for several other reasons as well. For instance, it can reveal to us areas of effectiveness and areas of deficiency. This data lets us know how well we are doing in reaching different ethnic groups in our state. The Great Commission tells us to take the Gospel to every ethnos (people group), which is translated in the KJV as every nation. The ACP data can reveal to us effectiveness as a body.
The ACP data your church sends also affects the numbers of dollars that come back to MBC ministries from Lifeway Christian Resources and to some extent, the North American Mission Board (NAMB). The only way we can report accurately and timely is from the ACP data sent by you. This ACP information also helps us understand the needs of our churches and thereby sets the ministry direction of your convention staff.
We are anxious to see how our MBC churches have done in terms of baptisms and other ministries for the 2003-04 church year. We truly appreciate the leaders from our churches and associations that work hard at submitting the ACP information. Please help us and encourage the appropriate person in your church. We would ask that you submit your ACP information as quickly after the end of the church year (Sept. 30) as you possibly can. If you can get it submitted in October, this will allow us to complete the 2004 Annual Book of Reports for the whole of the MBC. Our goal is to then get a printed copy of this overall report returned to your church in February 2005.
If you need any assistance please do not hesitate to call the convention office at (800) 736-6227 and ask for Marcia Patridge. She will be glad to assist you and answer your questions. For even greater convenience, the ACP can be completed on-line by going to this website: sbds.lifeway.com. Thank you for your help.