Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

"The average Baptist takes no stock of Easter, and the like, not that he does not believe in the resurrection; not that people may not observe days; but, like Paul, he is skittish of these extras and prefers the plain, old, level Jordan road, with a steady incline up, all the way till it reaches the city of God." -- J. B. Gambrell, from The Baptist Standard, May 1907

I wonder if Gambrell would recognize "the average Baptist" today?


Jokers55 said...

How would you/we define "average Baptist"?

R. L. Vaughn said...

Jokers55, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Click HERE for the full quote from Gambrell. I'm not sure how much of his quote applies 102 years later. I like the part about the average Baptist taking on the complexion of the New Testament. The "average Baptist" ought to be that way, but I fear he is not (at least if we take the average numerically).

Jokers55 said...

If we talk about the average Baptist of the 19th century, of course such would be different from what we have today.My question is what is the average Baptist of today?And, when we say average Baptist are we saying that without further titles, ie. Landmark, Free Will, Pentecostal, etc.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Brother Joker, I think the simple historical point of my post was lost, or perhaps you are asking for more than I am able to give.

I meant to point out that, whatever the average Baptist is today, he has likely changed from what he was 100 years ago. I think that to some degree Gambrell was able to make such a statement (even though I'm sure he had his own people mostly in mind) because there was more agreement across the spectrum of Southern, Landmark, Primitive, etc. That would not be true today. Since the Southern Baptists make up such a majority of the total number of Baptists, they certainly would skew what is the "average Baptist" (generically), and they are much more diverse than they were in 1907.

What do you think is the average Baptist of today?

Jokers55 said...

I don't know. I was hoping you could tell me.Got any stats that could give us an idea?

R. L. Vaughn said...

Brother Jokers55, the following is outdated -- something I compiled circa 2001. But it is the only thing I can quickly put my "cut and paste" hands on.


The following statistics of Baptists in the United States are taken mostly from Baptists Around the World, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr., 1995, Broadman & Holman. As far as I know this represents the most recent published count of Baptists in the United States. The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies' "Religious Congregations Membership Study, 2000" should be available in a year or two, and will be published by Glenmary Research. Other sources of statistics will be noted at the end of the post. This list follows my first post with a few refinements and additions to (hopefully) make the list more accurate.

1. American Baptist Churches in the USA [1,504,573 members in 5801 churches]
2. Baptist General Conference [132,994 members in 786 churches]
3. Conservative Baptist Association of America [200,000 members in 1197 churches]
4. North American Baptist Conference [42,689 members in 267 churches]
5. Seventh Day Baptist General Conference [4885 members in 78 churches]
6. Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America [402 churches]
7. General Association of Regular Baptist Churches [157,522 members in 1541 churches]
8. Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America [106 churches]
9. New England Evangelical Baptist Fellowship [had 1022 members in 10 churches in 1965 - no recent statistics available]
10. SIMILAR STATE, REGIONAL, OR NATIONAL INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTAL GROUPS [estimated 66,500 members in 467 churches - includes Minnesota Baptist Association; Wisconsin Fellowship of Baptist Churches; Association of Independent Baptist Churches of Illinois; Dakota Baptist Association; Inter-Mountain Baptist Fellowship; Mountain States Baptist Fellowship; Association of Fundamental Baptist Churches of Northern California; Independent Fundamental Baptist Association of Michigan; & New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches]
11. Southern Baptist Convention [15,400,487 members in 38,458 churches]
12. American Baptist Association [approx. 250,000 members in 1731 churches]
13. Baptist Missionary Association of America [234,607 members in 1327 churches]
14. Independent Landmark Associations and Churches [estimated 85,000 members in 821 churches - includes 4 unaffiliated associations and 695 independent churches]
15. Interstate and Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association of America [14,225 members in 132 churches]
16. Old Time Missionary Baptists [approx. 60,000 members in 490 churches - includes 24 unaffiliated associations and 168 independent churches]
17. Sovereign Grace Landmark Independent Baptist [417 churches]
18. United Baptist - Landmark type [23,969 members in 126 churches - Green River, South Concord, South Fork, Stockton Valley, and West Union Associations]
19. Baptist Bible Fellowship International [3395 churches]
20. Heartland Baptist Bible Fellowship [unofficial name; recently separated from BBFI, including Northwest Baptist Fellowship & Missouri Valley Concord of Independent Baptist Churches - numbers would be included in BBFI above]
21. Independent Baptist Fellowship International [540 churches]
22. Liberty Baptist Fellowship [100 churches]
23. Southwide Baptist Fellowship [912 churches]
24. World Baptist Fellowship [945 churches]
{Wardin says these southern-oriented fundamentalists (BBFI-WBF) have over 4500 churches and are approaching 2 million members. Totals of churches above will not add up correctly because many pastors participate in more than one of these fellowships. This is also true of the northern-oriented fundamentalist fellowships}
25. National Baptist Convention of America [1,700,000 members in 6716 churches]
26. National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. [6,000,000 members in 18,513 churches]
27. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America [200,000 members in 701 churches]
28. National Primitive Baptist Convention, Inc. [616 churches]
29. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. [741 churches]
30. Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship [not available]
31. Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association [approx. 9000 members in 100 churches; these churches also represent in the GARBC or CBAA]
32. Primitive Baptist - Independent African-American local associations [not available]
33. Central Baptist Association [3700 members in 33 churches]
34. General Association of Baptists (Duck River and Kindred Associations) [10,212 members in 99 churches]
35. Old Regular Baptists [15,218 members in 326 churches]
36. Regular and Union Baptists [8704 members in 111 churches]
37. United Baptists - Regular [54,248 members in 436 churches; Wardin's numbers probably include #18 and #51 on my list]
38. Primitive Baptists - Absolute Predestinarian [6495 members in 389 churches]
39. Primitive Baptists - Progressive [8000 members in 119 churches]{the Eastern District Association of Primitive Baptists is also progressive in its practice, though not using the name progressive for the churches. 67 churches are in the Eastern District Association}
40. Primitive Baptists - Regular (Old Line) [48,980 members in 1426 churches]
41. Primitive Baptist - Univeralists [582 members in 28 churches]
42. Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists [about 80 members in 4 churches]
43. Jasper, New Hope, and Pleasant Valley Associations (GA) [10,977 members in 64 churches]
44. National Association of Free Will Baptists [234,588 members in 2461 churches]
45. Original Free Will Baptist Convention [33,066 members in 236 churches]
46. United American Free Will Baptist Church [50,000 members in 816 churches] {note: this is an African-American body}
47. Independent Free Will Baptist Associations [22,000 members in 295 churches]
48. General Association of General Baptists [73,308 members in 816 churches]
49. General Six-Principle Baptists [140 members in 2 churches]
50. Separate Baptists in Christ [8318 members in 100 churches]
51. National Association of United Baptists [14,641 members in 152 churches]
52. Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America [40 churches]
53. Sovereign Grace Baptist Association of Churches [15 churches]
54. Continental Baptist Churches [9 churches]
55. Gospel Standard Strict Baptists [3 churches]
{Wardin gives an estimated 1600 members in 400 Reformed Baptist congregations. This would include churches independent of the 4 associations mentioned above}

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship could possibly be recognized as a new Baptist group, since it operates independently of the SBC. But a number of their churches are affiliated with the SBC. I have no statistical information on them. The Colorado Reform Baptist Church is included in J. Gordon Melton's "Encyclopedia of American Religions" with 2015 members in 38 churches. They are arminian and social activists. I have no other information on them.

9. Encyclopedia of American Religions, by J. Gordon Melton, 1989.
12. The American Baptist Association - a Survey and Census of Its Churches and Associations, by R. L. Vaughn, 1996.
13. B.M.A.A. Directory and Handbook - 2001
14. Association minutes and "Unaffiliated Landmark Baptist Church Survey" by R. L. Vaughn.
15. IFLMBA 2000 minutes.
16. Association minutes and "Unaffiliated Landmark Baptist Church Survey" by R. L. Vaughn.
17. "Unaffiliated Landmark Baptist Church Survey" by R. L. Vaughn.
18. Association minutes.
31. Association of North American Missions -
33. Association minutes.
34. Association minutes.
41. Association minutes.
42. BATW, Association minutes, & conversation with a "Two-Seed" elder.
43. Association minutes.
51. Association minutes.
52. Association directory.
53. Association directory.
54. Association directory.

Jokers55 said...

Wow, that is a BUNCH. I guess even figuring how many Baptists (real or otherwise) there are would be s struggle. I haven't been a member of a church for some time so I guess I wouldn't be included. Even so it was a small Sovereign Grace Landmark group and I suppose it may not have been counted.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Yes, that is a bunch. There are lots of different kinds of Baptists, and I guess some of the same "kind" who don't get along very well!

Which Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptists were you with? Was it an independent church, or part of some association/fellowship? Some are included in this count (#17). Of course, that is just a count of churches, not members.

Jokers55 said...

#17 sounds most like the people I was with. We were independent, no association or anything like that.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Probably so, then. I can up with that number/list from correspondence, visiting web sites/links, and from lists that were on a few different sites. I wouldn't say all of them were necessarily fellowshipping together. But all were Sovereign Grace and Landmark.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Should be: "I CAME up with that number..."