Tuesday, March 27, 2012

LifeWay Statistics: An Apology From The Flyswatter

Dear readers, The Flyswatter let you down. For that, we apologize.

Last month when we published our blockbuster story on LifeWay's misuse of statistics we failed to do our homework. This is so embarrassing. Please forgive us.

We told you in the story about how churches are failing to report their ACPs, even big churches such as David Platt's. We asked how Ed Stetzer at LifeWay could say with a straight face that baptisms were down in the SBC when he didn't have the numbers from the churches. How could he give interviews to secular media trashing the denomination which pays his salary when he didn't have the data to back it up? Does one plus one still equal two or is it different for LifeWay?

We apologize because we completely missed a May 11, 2011 story in the Tennessee Baptist Convention's Baptist and Reflector entitled "Analyzing trends difficult when fewer churches report stats." The article says,

[H]istorically the Southern Baptist Convention data has been the envy of all other denominations. In recent years, however, participation in the Annual Church Profile by churches has declined, thus making it hard to evaluate accurately what type of progress, if any, is being made to reach our state and nation for Christ.
Another article in the B & R says that "LifeWay is charged with the task of gathering data from churches all across the country."

A month after the May 11th B & R article came out, LifeWay's Ed Stezer was quoted in USA Today on the "decline" in SBC baptisms. Ed said, "This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline." Ed said nothing about the decline of reporting baptisms among SBC churches.

Sorry, readers. We were too easy on Ed in our first article. We cut him far too much slack.

His culpability is way beyond what we first imagined.

Why Ed? Why report data that you do not have and act like you have it?


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At Wednesday, March 28, 2012 12:38:00 PM, Anonymous Steve said...


Apology accepted. Thanks for keeping us informed. I agree, ACP is vital. LifeWay should stay on top of it.


At Wednesday, March 28, 2012 4:46:00 PM, Anonymous Bruce K. Oyen said...

"Charles," anyone can pick on others. Doing so doesn't require much talent. An expert like you should inspire your readers with accounts of the churches you've started, numbers of baptisms performed, souls won to Christ, and other positive things. You could also tell us of the books you've written.

At Thursday, March 29, 2012 3:38:00 PM, Anonymous Bruce K. Oyen said...

"Charles," I read the USA Today article you referenced. It gave a better perspective on the matter than you reported in your posting. It is obvious that the statements from Ed Stetzer were based on information they did have, not on what they did not have. That is, they compared the 2010 reports from churches with the 2009 reports, and had a basis for saying there was a decline in some things. Your other readers might want to check out the article itself. Here is the link to it: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-06-12-baptisms_11_ST_N.htm. As a reminder, I'm not with the SBC, nor am I a Calvinist.

At Thursday, March 29, 2012 4:18:00 PM, Anonymous Bruce K. Oyen said...

"Charles," here is a link to a Baptist Press article by Ed Stetzer on this subject:

At Friday, March 30, 2012 12:34:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Bruce, hello!

The tone of the USA Today article was that baptisms were down throughout the SBC. Comparing the exact same churches tells a very incomplete story.

The fact is that ACP reporting is down primarily among the Reformed Calvinist churches. Ed knows this but won't talk about it.

Some of the very large churches are also not reporting, such as David Platt's church. This skews the numbers. Read the B&R articles.


At Friday, March 30, 2012 3:04:00 PM, Anonymous Bruce K. Oyen said...

"Charles," you wrote: "The fact is that ACP reporting is down primarily among the Reformed Calvinist churches." My question is this:how do you know this to be a fact? Also, you wrote: "Ed knows this but won't talk about it." Please document this claim. FYI: i don't know Ed Stetzer, and I have not read his books. But his book, "Come Back Churches" looks very interesting.

At Saturday, March 31, 2012 2:57:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Bruce, Hello!

How do I know? Go back and read the articles, postings, and comments on the ACP at various Reformed blogs. You can start with Tom Ascol.

As for Stetzer, I have my sources. Why don't you ask him? Better yet, ask him why he will not publish a list of churches that do not report starting with the church of our friend David Platt? That would clear it up once and for all, wouldn't it?


At Monday, April 02, 2012 1:19:00 PM, Anonymous Bruce K. Oyen said...

"Charles," your postings reveal more about you own twisted thinking than they do about the ones you write about.


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