This year New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is celebrating 100 years of faithful ministry in the city of New Orleans and beyond. This centennial celebration got us thinking about churches in the SBC who have celebrated this century mark. How many exist? How many people attend these churches? What is their impact on kingdom work as well as convention work? To answer these questions I would like to offer you four facts about Centennial Churches.
1. Centennial Churches are significant.
According to the 2016 Annual Church Profile, 37% (14,584) of reporting churches had a start date of 1917 or older. Over ten thousand of these churches were started in the nineteenth century, and over 350 were started in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Two of the oldest churches in the SBC are First Church in Charlestown, MA, a newcomer to the SBC, which was established in 1632, and First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC, which was established in 1682.
2. Centennial Churches are missional.
A third of all baptisms reported in 2016 came from Centennial Churches. Over 96,000 baptisms were reported in churches that were 100 years old or older. First Baptist Church Orlando and Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas led all Centennial Churches in baptisms.
3. Centennial Churches are giving churches.
In 2016, 52% of the Cooperative Program, 54% of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and 53% of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was given by Centennial Churches. Missions giving is overwhelmingly funded by older, established churches.
4. Centennial Churches are smaller-membership churches.
Eighty-three percent of Centennial Churches are congregations that average 250 or less in their Sunday morning worship attendance. Thirty-one percent of SBC churches are old and small.
Nearly a third- of all SBC churches are old and small. These Centennial Churches play a crucial role in who we are as Southern Baptists. They are giving, missional, and small churches who are playing a pivotal role in advancing the Great Commission in North America and beyond. As pastors, church leaders, and church members let us rejoice in the legacy of these great churches!
Join us next week when we look at some of the greatest challenges of Centennial Churches.