This past month statistics for church planting and baptisms for the Southern Baptist Convention were posted. California Southern Baptist Convention was listed as the leader in the increased number of baptisms for 2018. California churches baptized 2,653 more people in 2018 than in 2017, which led all state Baptist conventions. That is a 27.75 percent increase in California from 2017 to 2018 at a time when SBC baptisms declined.
Also, California churches were responsible for 70 new church plants, which accounted for 11.2 percent of all the church plants in North America and Canada in 2018; 40 of the new churches were ethnic and 30 were Anglo, which is a pretty good representation of who makes up the population of California.
What insight can we draw from this data?
California churches have a heart for sharing the gospel and reaching people. The mission field called California has 35,000,000 people who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. That number accounts for more people than the total combined population of the nearest 14 states. I am thankful that our churches are stepping up to address the lostness of our state.
California churches must continue to find ways to start new, healthy, reproducing churches throughout the state and among the many people groups living here. It would take 70,000 churches averaging 500 each to hold the 35,000,000 already here who do not know Jesus. The entire SBC has 47,000 churches! It seems like a daunting task but we must accept the challenge and make a difference.
People say, “How can you make a difference with so many?” The answer is, one person at a time.
California churches involved in revitalization will one day be the churches to serve as “mother churches” to new church plants. In every revitalization process, baptizing new believers is a key marker that the church is moving in the right direction. As churches are revitalized and re-enter the battle, more people will be reached and churches will be stronger and healthier.
California’s small churches are seeing their value in God’s plan. Every church is important and plays a valuable and key role in the spiritual battle raging in our state. I pray that no church ever feels insignificant, because we are only strong when we all work toward the same goal and pull in the same direction.
I am thankful for every church in California Southern Baptist Convention, and honored that I get to serve with you for such a time as this.
I hope to see you this year as we all step up and accept the challenge to see the Kingdom grow and see lives eternally changed by the power of God.
Read Dr. Agee's report to the CSBC Executive Board about the Step-Up Challenge.
See archives of Dr. Agee's previous Insights.