Thursday, February 12, 2015

2014: A look back at what our churches did

Peter Drucker used to say two questions the leader of any organization must ask and answer are these:  what business are you in, and how’s business?  In my role as executive director of UBA, I’m constantly asking myself those questions.  

What business is UBA in?  We are in the business of mobilizing churches to take on lostness.  (Last month I tried to flesh out what that means today and how what it means changes as our culture shifts.)  

The second question--how’s business--is a little tougher to answer because we are dependent upon the churches of UBA for the information we need to answer the question.  That’s why every year we ask churches to share with us certain pieces of critical information, e.g. baptisms, giving, worship attendance, missions involvement.  We report this data in a form called the Annual Church Profile (or ACP).  For years it was expected that churches would turn in their ACPs and churches complied.

Today, it seems, churches are less inclined to share the information.  Of the 570 churches that were affiliated with UBA as of December 31, 2014 only 224 (or 39.3%) have turned in their ACPs.  (In case you are wondering, the hesitancy to provide an annual report is not limited to Houston; it’s happening all across the convention.)

Anglo churches are more likely to turn in their ACPs ... 66% of our Anglo churches reported whereas 42% of Hispanic churches, 40% of Asian churches and 18% of African American churches turned in their reports.  Consequently, we do not have a full picture of how we are doing.  If you think your church may not have turned in their ACP, contact our office and we’ll be glad to work with you to get the information we need.

What do we know from those who have reported?  Here’s a quick summary.  On any given Sunday there are about 143,091 people in worship in UBA congregations and 80,217 involved in Bible study.  So far, 11,694 baptisms have been reported.  A statistic we’ve started monitoring is the number of people involved in mission projects (49,824).

Second Baptist Church, Dr. Ed Young, pastor, reported the most baptisms (3,102) followed by the Woodlands Church, Kerry Shook, pastor (1,702) and Community of Faith, Mark Shook, pastor (1,200).  Champion Forest (504), Sagemont (500), Bethel’s Family (452), First Baptist Pasadena (265), River Pointe (254) Sugar Creek (218) and Houston’s First (205) round out the top 10.

The top ten churches in worship attendance are:  Second Baptist (23,610), Woodlands Church (18,655), Champion Forest (5,927), Fallbrook (5,500), Community of Faith (5,500), Houston’s First (5,325), Sagemont (4,783), River Pointe (4,501), Clear Creek (4,500) and Brentwood (4,000).

A growing area that really excites me is the number of church members involved in missions activity outside the church.  The top ten churches reporting members involved in mission projects are:  Second (11,484), Woodlands (7,443), Champion Forest (5,494), Sugar Creek (4,122), Kingsland (2,590), Humble Area’s First (1,670), Sagemont (1,215), University/Clear Lake (1,080) and Copperfield (1,074).

That’s the data.  What does it all mean?  If we compare ourselves to what we’ve done in the past, things look good:  11,694 baptisms; 143,091 people in worship; 49,824 involved in mission projects.  And that’s with only 224 of 570 churches reporting.  I wonder what they would be if we could get all of our churches reporting!

Yet, when we compare what we are doing to the job that needs to be done we see there is much room for improvement.  143,091 people in worship sounds good, and it is, but it is only 3.3% of the 4.337 million people that live in Harris County.  11,694 people baptized is exciting (the only time we reported more baptisms was in 2011 and that was with 10% more churches reporting than this year), but it’s less than 0.004% of the non-evangelical population of Harris County.  

So how’s business?  I’d say we are doing well, but we’ve got a long way to go!  The thing that encourages me daily is that our pastors and churches are not content.  They are ever striving to do all they can to fulfill the Great Commission.  It’s not a job.  It’s a calling.  That’s why we are all the more committed to doing the best we can.

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