By Brian Koonce
JEFFERSON CITY – If a picture is worth a thousand words, statistics can be worth 10,000. That’s the case for the Annual Church Profile (ACP), a statistical snapshot of each of the 1,900 Missouri Baptist churches. The ACP questionnaire began going out to churches last month with the request that they be turned in by Sept. 30.
The stats derived from ACP are used in Missouri to allocate messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting, MBC Executive Board members and more.
“Is is the data collection tool that drives what your MBC staff provides to the churches,” said Jody Burkett, the MBC specialist tasked with organizing the ACP data. “[It] helps us understand the heartbeat of the convention.”
The profile features 23 questions from LifeWay Christian Resources, and an additional 36 questions related to MBC churches only. The data is used on every level of Baptist life: SBC-wide, statewide, association-wide and down to the local church.
Beginning last month, associational offices received the forms from LifeWay specific to each church. Churches affiliated with an association send their completed profiles back to the association office, and unaffiliated churches send it directly to the MBC.
Mark Donnell, MBC Sunday School specialist, said the ACP data is useful on several levels.
“How can a church really know how effective it is unless it is looking at itself?” he said. “ACP helps you get an idea of the overall health of the church. In Sunday School, you can see if you’ve grown in one area or maybe you need to concentrate on this new area. It can even help you see how you allocate your budget. This is where we’re at, here’s what we need to do to get where we want to be.”
The same goes for the local association. Donnell said ACP helps associations know better how they can serve the local church.
“Third, the state convention gets a picture of how we can minister better,” he said. “A lot of Cooperative Program and LifeWay money gets channeled back into the state convention and local association because of the results of the ACP report. It’s just so much better when we can have an objective look at what’s going on.”
Last year, 84 percent of Missouri Baptist churches filled out the ACP. Marcia Patridge, who deals with ACP data for the MBC, said Missouri has been hovering in the mid-80s for the last few years. She also said accuracy is key when it comes to the ACP.
“Every year we get columns that don’t add up,” she said.
For more information, go to www.mobaptist.org/acp.