‘The latest returns show a mixed but broadly positive picture for churches in the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB)’, according to the lead story in today’s issue of The Baptist Times.
Both church membership and (adult) baptisms, the traditional measures of Baptist strength, fell between 2009 and 2010, to stand at 135,536 (-1%) and 3,566 (-5%) respectively in 2010.
However, during the same period, the number of children attending Baptist churches rose by 2%, to reach 78,648, and of young people by 3½% to 39,602.
As noted last week (http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/?p=868), ministry among children and young people is also one of the few areas in the Church of England to show some encouraging signs.
Overall Baptist attendance figures have apparently not yet been analysed, but The Baptist Times states that ‘they are expected to show an increase, continuing the trend of the last decade’.
Commenting on the statistics, Revd Ian Bunce, head of BUGB’s mission department, noted that the drop in baptisms is ‘the biggest issue we need to face’, highlighting the fact that the Union is failing to retain its children and youth as they move into adulthood. The department is currently undertaking a major piece of research into this topic.
The Baptist Times also reports that there is an ongoing small net growth in the number of BUGB churches after decades of decline and closure.
Since 2005 there have been more than 70 church plants, of which 17 were ‘resurrections’ of churches which had closed or been reduced to only a handful of worshippers and 14 were ethnic minority churches, mainly in London.
The Baptist Times article can be read at:
BRIN’s coverage of the equivalent news story last year is still available at:
The full BUGB statistics will appear in the 2011 edition of the Union’s annual Directory, whose publication should be reasonably imminent. Regrettably, the data do not normally find their way on to BUGB’s website.