If you judge your success as a religion by the number of baptisms performed, and the group with the greatest percentage growth in baptisms is kids who aren’t old enough to know what the hell they’re doing, you should crawl into a corner and rethink your life’s work.
That’s what’s happening in the world of Southern Baptists:
While the number of baptisms is down for most age groups, “the only consistently growing group in baptisms is age five and under,” the task force reported. Granted, baptisms in this group comprise a small number of the total number of baptisms, but the preschool age group saw a 96 percent increase from 1974 to 2010. In fact, this group had the strongest trend line over the 37-year period.
While some Baptist churches wait until the kids are a little older before taking their commitment to the faith seriously, not all of them do. Which means they’re basically taking credit for kids who just do whatever their parents tell them to do.
Women’s Missionary Union preschool ministry consultant Joye Smith said she hasn’t heard much concern from church leaders. She said she is not concerned about young children being baptized if the family of the child “is actively involved in the church and are going to give the discipling that the child needs in order to grow in faith.”
Unfortunately for them, that’s not what’s happening. People are leaving the faith in record numbers as they get older — and the SBC still doesn’t really understand why (even though they think they do).
The SBC believes it’s a sign of success that a bunch of preschool-aged kids are willing to go swimming for a few seconds. Because that’s all this really is for them. Meanwhile, as those children grow up and see how the SBC treats women and LGBT individuals, they’re getting the hell out of there.
Congrats, SBC. You’re winning a fictional battle and losing an actual war.