In addition to continuing loss in membership, there was a drop in total number of congregations for the fourth year in a row in the United States’ largest Protestant denomination. Congregations in 2021 totaled 50,423, down from a peak of 51,920 in 2017.
The Annual Church Profile for the first time featured research on online worship and religious education.
Southern Baptist congregations said 1,447,313 attended online on average each week, while an average of 198,122 attended Sunday school, small groups or Bible study.
“Many churches began sharing their worship services online during the pandemic,” said McConnell in Lifeway’s statement. “While some may only continue this practice until it’s safe for all to return, others have made it an ongoing part of their ministry or outreach.”
Seventy percent of SBC-affiliated churches took part in the 2021 profile, less than the 75% that did so in 2019.
O’Connell said all 41 Baptist state conventions reported membership numbers, but several state conventions did not request information about participation in online worship and Christian education.
This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.