By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md—Wondering whether it’s worth filling out the Annual Church Profile (ACP)? While every pastor knows “it’s not about the numbers,” every church tallies the offering and attendance.
“They show us our growth, the areas where we are lacking, where we are growing,” said Missiologist Ed Stetzer in a 2012 First-Person article for Baptist Press. “The three primary ways we detect and meet the needs of churches and their leaders are through personal relationships, through surveys of churches where they can express their needs and through the Annual Church Profile (ACP) where we can objectively assess the results of our work together with churches. While all are important, the ACP is the most objective and historically consistent tool we have to answer the question, ‘how are we doing, really?’”
The Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network uses the numbers to determine future mission strategy, update the database, and support church ministries and ministers more effectively. The number also is used to determine the number of messengers churches receive for the Annual Celebration in November.
According to the Network Constitution: “Each cooperating Baptist church will be entitled to two (2) messengers; each cooperating church exceeding fifty (50) members will then be given one additional messenger for each additional fifty (50) members or part thereof; or one additional messenger for each $750 contributed to the work of this Convention through the Cooperative Program until the maximum of thirty (30) is reached.
Churches are often surprised (and sometimes confused) because they receive so few messengers (or none at all) for the Annual Celebration.
“On the national level, Record-keeping is a time-honored biblical practice,” said Roger S. Oldham, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention communication and relations in a 2014 Baptist Press article, written by David Roach. “Four millennia after the fact, we know how many members of Jacob’s/Israel’s family traveled to Egypt and we know how many left Egypt more than 400 years later during the Exodus,” he said.
“Two millennia later, the biblical writers were faithful to report the number of people Jesus fed in the desert — about 5,000 men plus women and children — and how many were baptized on the Day of Pentecost – about 3,000,” Oldham said.
“National ACP statistics provide trends in how many people Southern Baptist congregations are reaching and impacting each year,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, in the same article. “Some accountability to share how you are doing each year is wise for any leader or family member.”