FRESNO — At least one California Southern Baptist association reported 100 percent return of its churches’ Annual Church Profiles (ACP).
Jason Blankenship, director of missions for Mid-Valley Baptist Association based in Fresno, said he “actually filled out the ACP over the phone” with churches that hadn’t yet completed the annual statistical report.
Moises Garcia, associate DOM, called the churches whose pastor speaks only Spanish, and the two came up with the unusual result of 100 percent response from their congregations.
The state average is about 40 percent “return rate,” according to Steve Foss, California Southern Baptist Convention applications data specialist.
“Every year it’s a struggle to get our congregations to report,” he lamented.
“By participating, California churches can affect how the SBC allocates its resources,” Foss noted. “It’s really about stewardship.”
Blankenship said all the church leaders he spoke with “responded positively” to his call.
“Many of these churches had something they were excited about — baptisms, Vacation Bible School numbers, etc.,” Blankenship noted, “and I got to celebrate these with them.”
Ralph Neighbour, leader of the CSBC church revitalization initiatives team, had asked Blankenship to help get details from churches that had not yet completed the ACP.
“I also track these numbers myself,” Blankenship said. “In the past I would connect with pastors who had not completed their ACPs because I track my association’s numbers such as baptisms. This was usually after the reports went out and I’d follow up after the fact.
“This year I was just making the calls earlier and including the data in the ACP.”
Blankenship said he’d probably do the same thing next year.
“Instead of waiting for the ACP finished reports to go out, and then filling in the blanks on those who didn’t complete it, I’ll get the details on the front end.
“We all rely on data to determine how we’re doing,” he continued. “For example, it’s our goal that every church in the association would have at least one baptism each year. If a church has not baptized a single person in the span of a year that’s a big indicator they need some help.”
Blankenship noted that in 2015, 35 Mid-Valley churches didn’t baptize anyone. In 2017 that number decreased to 18 churches; for 2018 it was just nine.
“Helping complete the ACPs means I get that data months in advance, and I’m contacting the churches. Also, the ACPs are important to our ministry partners, so a little effort on our part helps everyone.”
The church can use ACP data to monitor trends in growth or decline, and associations and CSBC use the data to assist with church planting and strengthening.