Survey: In 56% of SBC Churches, the Lord's Supper Practices Differ from the Baptist Faith and Message
The Story: A new study finds that majority of Southern Baptist churches permit anyone who has put their faith in Christ to participate in the Lord's Supper---while some churches include "anyone who wants to participate."
The Background: Article VII of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 lists baptism as a "prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper" and that the Lord's Supper is for "members of the church."
Yet a survey of SBC pastors by Lifeway Research finds that 52 percent of SBC churches offer the Lord's Supper to "anyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ" and 96 percent of their churches allow individuals who are not members of that local church to participate in the Lord's Supper. Only 4 percent restrict participation to local church members. Five percent of SBC churches serve communion to "anyone who wants to participate" regardless of whether they are professed believers.
The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:
• The majority of SBC churches---nearly 60 percent---observe Lord's Supper quarterly.
• Eighteen percent offer it monthly, 15 percent from five to 10 times a year, 8 percent less than four times a year.
• Only 1 percent observe the Lord's Supper weekly.
• Pastors of churches in the Northeast (67 percent) and West (45 percent) are more likely to say they observe the Lord's Supper monthly than pastors of churches in the Midwest (17 percent) and South (14 percent).
• The majority of churches in the South (61 percent) and Midwest (58 percent) conduct the Lord's Supper quarterly compared to churches in the West (29 percent) and Northeast (12 percent).
Correction: The original headline stated that 96% of SBC churches were out of conformity. The true number is 56%, the 52 who say any Christian partake and the 4 who say anyone at all can partake.