Monday, February 13, 2012

Is Ed Stetzer Mathematically Challenged Or What?

I won’t bore you with the details of my reaction the day I heard that Ed Stetzer was made head of statistics at LifeWay. The Eddie I knew, head of statistics?

Let me give you one example which explains my reaction of that news-worthy day. Last summer, Eddie looked at the annual church profile (ACP) reports from our Southern Baptist churches and proclaimed that baptisms were down to the extent that we were in trouble. In fact, Ed said, it was “a trend. And the trend is one of decline.”

Naturally, since he is the top dog of statistics at LifeWay, Ed’s report was picked up by the secular media. USA Today ran a headline, “Nation's largest Protestant group faces 'decline’.”

The problem with Eddie’s numbers is this: There is a growing movement among some churches not to report baptisms! This is especially true with Deformed Reformed-Flounder-friendly churches. Tom Ascol hates the ACP and encourages his followers not to report. Also, my sources at NAMB have told me that many of their new church plants do not report.

Question #1 to Eddie: How does this affect the numbers?

Question #2 to Eddie: Why didn’t you mention it?

My #1 challenge to Eddie: Give us the complete data! We not only need to know the number of baptisms, but a year-by-year report on the percentage and number of churches that do not turn in their ACPs. How does the decline in baptisms correspond to the increased number of churches not reporting their ACPs? Ed, your failure to address this does not inspire faith in your statistical abilities.

My #2 challenge to Eddie: Give us the data on the number and percentage of new church plants that are not reporting. These churches should be experiencing the most growth, right? At least that’s what we’re told when NAMB takes our money and gives it to them. So what are the numbers, Ed? (Note to self: Write Kevin Ezell and demand that complete and proper ACP reporting become a mandatory requirement for any receipt of NAMB money).

My #3 challenge to Eddie: Start “outing” the churches that do not report. I want to see a list. I want names of pastors and churches on LifeWay’s website. Ed, you shame us as a denomination in the secular media when you release this data knowing you don’t have all the numbers. Turn it around and shame the non-reporting churches instead.

You can start with our mutual friend, “Secret Church” seminar speaker David Platt. Davy has not reported baptisms for years now (see also here). Maybe his lack of ACP reporting is part of his “secret” thing but the fact is he pastors a very large church. There has got to be some baptizing going on there, Ed! How many more churches are like David Platt’s? And what does their lack of reporting do for our overall numbers?

Eddie, I know you’re busy. Pastoring, writing books, blogging, tweeting, traveling, seminar speaking, etc. Not sure when you find the time but you do still work at LifeWay, don’t you? You still get paid to count numbers, right? THEN DO YOUR JOB AND GET THE NUMBERS! Then get back to me.


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At Tuesday, February 14, 2012 1:03:00 AM, Blogger Bruce Oyen said...

Charles (if that is your actual name), there you go again, naming the names of those with whom you find fault, but keeping your own identity hidden. I think you are a a crank, one who likes to pick on others. And not only a crank, but a coward, one who hides behind a rock while taking shots at others. I'm not a Southern Baptist or a Calvinist. But most of them deserve more respect than you do. At least they are not so cowardly as to remain anonymous.

At Tuesday, February 14, 2012 1:33:00 PM, Anonymous Scott said...

You have no place to criticize Reformed guys for being divisive when you employ the type of rhetoric that you do. If you have questions to ask of Ed Stetzer, there are ways that you can do it that are in keeping with Christian charity. The simple fact is that you are in desperate need of repentance for the way that you address Christian brothers. You don't get to throw out the "well they act this way card" either. The perceived sinful actions of others do not justify your behavior.


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