When megachurch pastor J.D. Greear became the 62nd president of the Southern Baptist Convention, he saw all kinds of statistics headed in all kinds of directions.

After decades of growth, America’s largest Protestant flock faced steady decline as many members joined thriving nondenominational evangelical and charismatic churches. Ominously, baptism statistics were falling even faster. On the other side of the 2018 ledger, worship attendance and giving to SBC’s national Cooperative Program budget were holding strong.

Terry Mattingly leads GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is a senior fellow at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.

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