SBC messengers 'getting younger' Dallas report shows

    July 18, 2018

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    DALLAS (BP) – Nearly twice as many messengers attended the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting when compared to the previous year fueled by a strong Southern Baptist presence in Texas the SBC Executive Committee has announced.

    The latest registration report also showed increases in first-time attendees and those in the 18- to 39-year-old range.

    Messengers in Dallas totaled 9632 SBC registration secretary Don Currence announced July 10. Including guests exhibitors credentialed press and others 16032 is the official attendance count. In 2017 SBC messengers totaled 5015 with registered attendance numbering 9315 according to 2017 attendance figures.

    "We weren't surprised" Currence said. "We were expecting it to be on target for what it did for Dallas." The 2017 annual meeting site Phoenix draws a lower crowd because of travel expenses and a lower Southern Baptist population Currence said.

    Specifically Texas has 2654439 Southern Baptists among 6275 churches the largest membership of any state. Arizona has 88502 Southern Baptist members among 417 churches.

    More first-time attendees

    Working with Currence in compiling annual meeting statistics Bill Townes noted the high percentage of first-time attendees.

    "An interesting fact is that 35 percent of attendees (completing the survey) reported attending their first SBC Annual Meeting" Townes SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention finance told BP. "The average percentage of first-time attendance over the last 16 years is 21 percent."

    Dallas messengers represented 3796 churches in 48 states the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Texas led states in messenger representation with 2055 followed by Louisiana with 737 Tennessee with 617 North Carolina with 552 and Oklahoma with 536 according to the registration report. Similarly Texas led in the number of churches that sent messengers 709; followed by Tennessee at 253; Louisiana 229; Georgia 225; and North Carolina 216.

    Two thirds of messengers 6404 were men compared to 3228 women. Statistics tracking gender were similar in 2017 when 64 percent of messengers were men.

    'Getting younger'

    Less than 15 percent of 2018 messengers 1333 completed the SBC annual meeting survey that gathers additional demographic information Currence reported. Of the sampling 25.2 percent were between the ages of 18 and 39 while 26.7 percent were age 60 and above.

    Currence found the number of young adult messengers encouraging.

    "What I like is that the age is getting younger" he said. "We're seeing younger people in their 20s and 30s more and more. That's part of the life of the convention."

    In 2017 the 14.8 percent of messengers who completed the survey tallied 21 percent in the 18- to 39-year-old range with 32.7 percent age 60 and above according to 2017 attendance figures.

    Senior pastors continue to comprise the largest segment of messengers 39 percent in 2018 and 47 percent in 2017.