LifeWay Statistics: An Apology From The FlyswatterDear 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?