NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)--- The number of baptisms in Southern Baptist churches has fallen for the second consecutive year despite a push by top leaders to evangelize.
At the same time, national membership increased by less than 1 percent, but more churches were built, according to the 2006 profile of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, a Southern Baptist agency that conducts the annual survey, said the findings show that denomination has not been effective in "stepping up to the task of sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world."
Baptisms dropped from 371,850 to 364,826, or 1.89 percent, last year, the lowest annual total since 1993, according to Baptist Press. In 2005, baptisms decreased by 4.15 percent.
National membership reached 16,306,246, up by nearly 36,000 in 2005. The number of churches across the country increased by 524, or 1.2 percent, to a total of 44,223.
The Southern Baptist Convention is the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
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