Asking such a question may sound a bit skeptical, or even cynical. Yet currently, more times than I can ever recall, the question is posed. My purpose is not to defend the Annual Church Profile — or ACP as it is commonly known — rather I would like to offer a brief perspective as to why your participation in presenting the information is essential to the assessment of church health and vital for the assessment of all major aspects of Southern Baptist life and ministry.
Most churches keep records to use as a tool so they can evaluate their situations and track areas which need attention. Although there is no biblical requirement for such record keeping, it does make good sense. If keeping records and reporting information is needed for the North American Mission Board as to church planting efforts and if such information is vital to the International Mission Board as to church planting and Gospel-sharing internationally, then the principle would apply to local churches here at home in the Alabama Baptist family.
Researchers, like LifeWay’s Ed Stetzer and those persons at the North American Mission Board, charged with tracking the progress of our efforts here in North America need this information to make accurate assessments. Some researchers have indicated that the SBC has experienced a slight decline in recent years. Perhaps the decline is actually reflected in the number of churches preparing and presenting the essential information in the ACP. To choose not to participate leaves gaping holes in this important research process.
My appeal to you as a church leader is to make sure your church prepares and sends the ACP to your local association or the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. We will be good stewards of this information. The entities of the Southern Baptist Convention will be beneficiaries of the effort as well as your state convention.
Not too long ago, 98 percent of Alabama Baptist churches participated in the ACP. In recent years that number is 83 percent. Let us do our part in making the ACP process an accurate reflection of the ministries of Alabama Baptist churches. Personally, I would rejoice in seeing a return to at least 90 percent participation in this data sharing process in the near future.
I want to thank you in advance for your cooperation in this important endeavor among your family of faith.