Child baptisms rise via missions education

Baptist Press
|
Posted: Dec 16, 2009 4:45 PM
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--Southern Baptist churches that have Royal Ambassadors (RAs) and Girls in Action (GAs) have a significantly higher child baptism rate than churches that do not, according to an analysis by the North American Mission Board.

The annual baptism rate for children ages 6-11 for churches with RA ministries was 26 percent higher than churches without RAs. That works out to 10.2 baptisms per 100 for churches in that age group in churches with RAs compared to 8.1 baptisms per 100 children in non-RA churches. NAMB sponsors Royal Ambassadors.

Churches with Girls in Action (GAs), a mission education ministry of Woman's Missionary Union, had a similar 25 percent increase in baptisms for the same age group compared to churches without GAs.

The analysis was drawn from Southern Baptists' Annual Church Profile, a survey of churches each fall which entails a broad array of measurements -- including participation in various ministries.

Mitzi Eaker, children's ministry consultant for WMU, said the correlation is not surprising since girls in GAs learn the plan of salvation as a part of their regular study.

"In addition to memorizing and learning Scripture passages, the girls also learn that God loves all the people of the world and He wants them to tell others of His love," Eaker said. "It is not surprising that girls would make a profession of the faith and begin sharing that faith with others, just as they learn about the missionaries who do the same."

Jim Burton, director of mission education for NAMB, said the analysis "reminds us that ministries like Royal Ambassadors are tied to the core objectives of the denomination. So it's rather natural for them to feed into key measurements like baptisms. We have tried to be intentional to raise the evangelism awareness within Royal Ambassadors, realizing that the ministry creates a key mentoring relationship in which counselors can share Christ with the boys."

Burton noted that out of 10,180 boys attending RA summer camps last year, 1,080 made professions of faith in Christ.

"State Baptist conventions do an outstanding job of nurturing the boys toward making a profession of faith during their RA camps," Burton said. "Likewise, many boys begin to understand God's missional call in their life and register that decision at RA camp.

"We want to help churches realize that mission education is a great way to connect their children to the bigger purpose of the church -- which is to baptize and make disciples," Burton said.

Richie Stanley, director of NAMB's Center for Missional Research, said the most significant impact of RAs and GAs the higher baptism rate was in churches with less than 100 members.

"Just by knowing that most younger churches are also small, you could make a case that small churches, young churches, might impact their children's evangelism if they added RAs and GAs," Stanley said.

James Dotson is a writer for the North American Mission Board. Woman's Missionary Union communications specialist Julie Walters contributed to this article. A video slideshow spotlighting Royal Ambassadors summer camps is available at www.royalambassadors.org.

Copyright (c) 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net