By Tim Lubinus, BCI Executive Director/Treasurer
We are just finishing the Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI) annual statistical reports and have much good news to report. The main number that I wait for each year is the number of worshippers, the weekly attendance in our churches. (See last year’s post, “Is BCI’s best measure of progress the number of affiliating churches?”) Last year we grew a strong 14 percent to an average attendance of 12,597 each week.
Our baptism numbers were very strong in 2015. We were up 29 percent over 2014 to 813. This represents one baptism for every seventeen in attendance. The number of baptisms is a key indicator of our evangelistic efforts.
Our Cooperative Program giving was also up a healthy 7.3 percent. I would hope it would at least grow with the attendance numbers, but often it takes people longer to learn to give than it takes them to learn to attend. Additionally, since we raised the Baptist Convention of Iowa’s percentage of giving to our national entities from twenty percent to fifty percent, the 7.3 percent increase translated into 168.3 percent increase in our giving to the SBC national missions entities in 2015.
We also carefully track attendance in small group Bible studies. We increased by about eight percent in 2015 to 9727. I regard small group participation as a key indicator of the progress that we are making in developing disciples.
While we added several strong churches through new affiliation or church starts, we also removed several churches from our affiliation list that either are no longer meeting or chose to not affiliate with the Baptist Convention of Iowa. We now have 112 affiliated churches, down from 118 in 2014. Because of these trends, I expect the number of BCI affiliated churches to remain fairly stable for a few years even though the number of worshippers is growing steadily.
Our attendance, baptism, giving, and small group numbers represent a plethora of rich stories of God’s power and favor. We only track these numbers to celebrate what God is doing among us and to continue to consider how to serve Him more faithfully in the next year.
Email me directly at TLubinus@BCIowa.org.