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Weekly Review

Southern Baptists Decline, Billy Graham Chaplains Respond, Podcast Features Food Banks, and Changes to ECFA, MinistryWatch Databases

Warren Cole Smith

SBC Membership Drops.  Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention fell by 2 percent last year, the largest percentage drop in 100 years.  According to the SBC’s annual report, released Thursday, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination had 14.5 million members in 2019, down about 287,655 from the previous year.  According to The Washington Post, “The decline reflects a larger trend of Americans leaving Christianity at a rapid pace. According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of Americans describe themselves as Christians, down 12 percentage points during the past decade.”  The annual report also said SBC baptisms fell by more than 4 percent.  Average weekly worship service and Sunday school or small-group attendance each dropped by less than 1 percent. Giving was down, and total church receipts fell 1.44 percent to $11.6 billion.

In Our Own Backyards.  The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) has been sending teams of crisis-trained chaplains to cities around the country in response to unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.  But this week the BGEA chaplains needed to serve at home.  “We have deployed chaplains to crises all over the world and now we have a crisis in the backyard of our headquarters in Charlotte. God is the ultimate healer and our chaplains have now responded in their community with a ministry of presence, offering peace and hope in a dark and difficult time,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.  More than 10 chaplains ministered in downtown Charlotte.  Since Sunday, another team of 12 RRT chaplains has been responding in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since Thursday to support the community experiencing a time of crisis surrounding the death of George Floyd.

On Today’s Podcast.  Each week, Natasha Smith (no relation!) and I bring you news about Christian ministries, as well as the latest in charity and philanthropy, all designed to help us become better stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us.  On today’s program, the death of Ravi Zacharias due to cancer has caused some Christians to start promoting alternative therapies.  We examine both their claims and their effectiveness.  We also look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the nation’s food banks.  Plus:  new rules that will impact the nation’s non-profits.  You can hear the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcast apps, or you can simply click here.

ECFA Changes.  The following organizations have had membership status changes in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.  ADDITIONS:  Thrive Metro East (Godfrey, Ill), Mile High Pines Camp (Angelus Oaks, Calif.), PAK7 US (Greenville, S.C.), Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (Chandler, Ariz.), Wi-Ne-Ma Christian Camp (Cloverdale, Ore.), Christ Health Care Ministry (Goshen, Ind.), Empower One (Dallas, Tex.).  REMOVALS:  Christian Camping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Novo Ministries (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Spring Arbor University (Spring Arbor, Mich.), Global Action (Monument, Colo.), Explorer’s Bible Study (Dickson, Tenn.)

MinistryWatch Rating Changes.  The following ministries have their profiles updated with the most recent year’s financial data.  The Financial Efficiency rating of each ministry is in parenthesis.  If this rating represents a change from the previous year, that change is noted:  It Is Written (5 Stars, Transparency Grade:  D), MinistryWatch (4 Stars, Transparency Grade:  D), World Impact (2 Stars, Transparency Grade:  C), World Team USA (3 Stars, Transparency Grade:  C), Pacific Island Ministries (5 Stars, Transparency Grade:  C), Paraclete Mission Group (3 Stars, Transparency Grade:  C), Medical Ambassadors International (2 Stars, Transparency Grade:  A), Mission Aviation Fellowship (1 Star, Transparency Grade:  C)

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Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine and has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 20 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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