Missional Landscape


Missional Landscape of SCBC Churches:  an Executive Summary

An analysis of the SCBC churches was prepared in order to better understand the challenges the SCBC faces in leading its churches to become the missionary congregations that will be needed in the coming decades.  From the analysis of the ACP data from 1980 to 2010, twelve major findings that have bearing on the missional future have been identified. 

Major Findings:

  • All six SC regions have growing, plateauing and declining SCBC churches.
  • Seventy-eight percent of SCBC churches who reported are plateaued or declining.
  • Churchs under 100 contribute less than 18% of SCBC worship attenders; all sizes decline.
  • The SCBC lacks adequate numbers of churches in suburban and city areas of the state.
  • The Upstate has the best penetration; the Low Country has the worst SCBC penetration
  • Ninety-three percent of South Carolinians do not attend a Southern Baptist Church.
  • Eighty-three percent of South Carolinians do not attend any evangelical church
  • Historically, major thrusts in church planting account for significant numbers of existing churches in the SCBC.
  • Collective resident membership will continue to decline to 2030 while Sunday School average will remain constant.
  • SCBC worship attendance as a percent of population was between 6 and 7% from 1980 to 2010 and is likely to remain at this level to 2030.
  • A net gain of 344 new churches is needed by 2030 in order to maintain 2010 church-to-population ratio – that is, just to “stay even” with today.
  • Cooperative program dollars will continue to increase to 2030; AAO & LMO stagnate.

Missional Landscape of SCBC Communities:  an Executive Summary

Demographic and survey data together with analytic tools have been used to evaluate the missional context of the state of South Carolina.  Highlighted in this section are the various groups of people that need to be reached and the need for sustained church planting.

Major Findings: 

  • South Carolina has six distinctive socio-cultural environments that present missional challenges.
  • Nearly 70% of South Carolinians do not consider themselves to born again believers
  • The top 100 locations of lostness may be found in every region of the state.
  • Nearly 300 new churches are needed in these top 100 locations of lostness.
  • Active SCBC & Evangelical presence is lower in top locations of lostness than SC as a whole.
  • The top 100 locations of lostness are primarily in medium towns.
  • All six social environments are represented among the top 100 locations of lostness.
  • Culturally appropriate strategies need to be developed to reach major language groups.
  • Culturally-appropriate approaches to reach the Hispanic Population are needed.
  • More than 35% of youth under the age of 18 live in poverty in 11 South Carolina counties.
  • More than 20% of adults in half of South Carolina counties have not finished high school.
  • More than 20% of adults in twelve South Carolina counties lack basic literacy abilities.
  • In nearly half of South Carolina counties 29-39% of households are singles living alone.
  • Group Quarters provide unique missional challenges.
  • Multihousing provides one of the most under-reached communities in the state.

Missional Implications for SCBC Churches:  an Executive Summary

If, for the next 20 years, the SCBC continues the same path as it has pursued during the last 20 years, one can expect similar results – that by 2030 there will be enough net gain of churches, new resident members, and worship attenders to keep the percentage of South Carolinians who attend an SCBC church at about 7%.   However, clearly that would mean that the SCBC would hardly have made a dent in reaching the state.  What is needed is a real game changer.

From a biblical-theological and missiological perspective, this game change is to move from the “every member a minister” concept of the last generation to implementing “every member a missionary where they are.”  While it is true that some may be called to cross cultural barriers overseas, all believers are already called in their salvation experience to cross the barriers across their streets and communities.  An honest appraisal of the South Carolina context indicates that SCBC pastors and lay people live on the mission field.  To train and deploy the sleeping missionary force in SCBC churches will require a number of things to change.

Major Findings:

  • Embrace the Missional Mission
  • Adopt a Missional Vision
  • Adopt Missional Core Values
  • Address People Blindness
  • Provide Missionary Training for SCB Staff, Board, and Leaders
  • Provide for Research & Development Needs
  • Develop Answers to Church Strengthening Needs
  • Create Contextual Evangelism Strategies and Tools
  • Create Peer-to-Peer Learing Communities
  • Start New Missional Congregations
  • Create Lay Missionary Training Strategies and Tools
  • Address Missional Strategy Development Needs 

Missional Landscape: Download the Report

The Missional Landscape analysis was completed under the direction of Dr. Curt Watke, Executive Director of the Intercultural Institute for Contextual Ministry.

Download the Complete Report


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