The Disappearing PCUSA, 2015 Data

The PCUSA membership data for 2015 was released earlier this month.  Key points are:
  • The largest % net membership loss in PCUSA history occurred in 2015
  • In the past five years (2011-15) the PCUSA has had a net loss of over 443,000 members (almost 23% of 2011 membership)
  • The number of members joining the PCUSA has declined for at least 17 consecutive years
  • Whereas in 1984 1.14 members were lost for every 1 gained, in 2015 over 2.61 members were lost for every 1 gained
  • In 2014 the number of Candidates for Ministry almost halved from the 2011 – 2013 values, with minor gains in 2015
  • Between 2011 and 2015 the PCUSA gained 84 and lost 920 churches (a loss to gain ratio of 10.9-to-1), for a five-year net loss of 836 churches
  • Between 2011 and 2015 the number participating in Christian Education fell by almost 31%
  • Between 2007 and 2014 PCUSA membership declined at twice the rate of Mainline churches, four-times the rate of the Catholic church and eight-times the rate of all Christian churches in the United States

A complete set of graphs and comments can be found on my Documents page under this blog title’s heading.  Following are a figures associated with the above highlighted bullet points.

What is going on with membership is scandalous on so many levels.  I’m here focusing on the simple numbers and how there is apparently no denomination leadership concern or grass-roots demand for any accountability during this on-going debacle.
But there is also (and far more significant) the human toll in broken relationships, shattered confidence and lost faith.  Tens of thousands of members each year — many of whom have called the PCUSA their Christian home for decades or generations — are compelled by their consciences to exit.
One would think that this situation would lead to deep and profound reflection by all involved.  That doesn’t appear to be happening in our public deliberations.

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