Good news: Baptists are baptising more and more people

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A significant rise in baptisms in Australia’s Baptist churches is reported by Crossover – the Baptist ministry that helps people share Jesus. A 34 per cent rise in baptisms year on year in this denomination, represents a rise in people expressing faith in Jesus as Saviour.

Andrew Turner, director of Crossover, has kindly given The Other Cheek the numbers behind this impressive stat which was first shared in the Sacred Agents blog.

In 2020 (reflecting activity in 2019) there were 2814 baptisms reported pre Covid. “The next year was down 6% to 2649” Turner told The Other Cheek. This dip was at the height of Covid restrictions on church gatherings.

In 2022: 2693 baptisms and 2023: 3603 respectively.

“From what I can gather from both patchy data and anecdotally – I am very confident that these last numbers do not reflect historical norms,” Turner said. “And I don’t think it’s a new commitment to reporting – the states don’t seem to have changed their methods of collecting data.

“Something else is going on – I do suspect it’s driven not by Christians becoming more fervent in evangelism. I think it’s driven by spiritual thirst among those who have been dwelling in – even born into – a spiritual desert. Again, it’s anecdotal, but I’ve been speaking and blogging about ‘gate-crashers’ – people walking into churches uninvited, from unchurched backgrounds – and dozens of pastors have told me they’re seeing that too, in ways they never did before about two years ago. Which coincides with the ‘end’ of Covid – but is something new as opposed to a return to something pre-Covid.”

Turner believes that the local upturn in baptisms may be connected to a wider movement. “You’ll see in the blog I recommend The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God podcast by Justin Brierley, which explores this wonderfully.”

Turner believes there is significant undercounting of baptisms in the Baptist network. “I suspect in each year there are about 20 per cent more that go unreported.”

The rise in baptisms adds to the indications – such as census data – that the Baptists are growing.

“The number of churches is gradually growing, though certainly not at 34% per year!” Turner exclaimed to The Other Cheek  “And attendance and membership numbers also seem to be gradually growing – though I don’t have data on that.”

But on baptisms, even if there were significantly less this year, there is a likely upward trend. “So we’re all waiting to see what the numbers will be for this year. Many are wondering if they will be a similar growth again. I’d love to see that. But I think that even if numbers are down 20%, we will have had a growth of 14% over two years. Whatever happens, with each extra year, it’s easier to identify real trends.”

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