The Disappearing PCUSA: 2017 Data
This post seeks to capture the nature of our continuing denominational collapse. You will note two distinctly identifiable years that are downward inflection points. The first is 2011, when the PCUSA approved ordination of practicing gays. The second is 2014, when the PCUSA approved of same-gender marriage.
Membership Gain, Loss and Net by Year
The following chart shows that the most important trend driving membership decline is the uniform yearly reduction in new members. Perhaps our denominational leadership should be asked why it is that, under their policies, every year fewer Christians choose to join?
Our leadership consistently claims that their radical deformations of Christianity are being done to make the denomination more “relevant” to contemporary culture. I have discussed this situation is a previous post.
As was noted in posts on PCUSA membership decline, this drive for “relevance” would appear to have been a total failure, as existing members continuously leave and fewer people join the PCUSA year after year. Given these results, which have been occurring for decades, it isn’t unreasonable to conclude that the “relevance” that PCUSA leadership so aggressively and consistently seeks is not to existing or prospective members, but rather to the secular elite with whom they appear to have a powerful bond of a common cause. It’s a sad sight to see leaders of the PCUSA offering up the church to be just one small cog in a giant, partisan secular machine.
Percent Annual Membership Change
Perhaps the 2018 numbers will show the net percent membership loss to be less than 4.5% for the first time in seven years. If so, our leadership will spin this result as a first step to recovery. Actually the reason would most likely be that so many members have already exited that the outward flow naturally must eventually decline. But they would never admit the truth.
Ratio of Membership Loss to Gain
Somehow, as our leaders move the denomination ever closer to their gnosis of “Christ,” flesh and blood Christians continue to vote at over 2:1 against continued membership. But apparently the beliefs of actual Christians counts as nothing when compared to the perfect beauty of their progressive ideological theology.
Church Gain, Loss and Net
Note that not a single Christian church has asked to join the denomination for at least seven consecutive years. Over that same time period 628 churches have exited (dismissed from) the denomination.
With regard to within the PCUSA, between 2011 and 2017, 119 new churches were “organized” and 637 were “dissolved.” That’s a ratio of 5.3-to-1 on the negative side.
Thus, overall, between 2011 and 2017, 1,265 PCUSA churches were lost to 119 gained. That’s a net loss of 1,126 churches. That’s a net loss-to-gain ratio of 10.6-to-1!
And yet these same leaders strut around Presbyteries, Synods and the GA supposing themselves to be the superior elite to whom we simple-minded pew-mice must bow.
One explanation is that our leaders are so incompetent, ignorant and mindless that they don’t realize the magnitude of their failure. Another explanation is that their goal has been to drive out all who disagree with them through great competence in personal cruelty, theological dishonesty, organizational politics and intimidation via support from the dominant secular progressive institutions.
The preponderance of evidence supports the latter explanation. Recall from a post on the last GA how our progressive brothers and sisters self-identified (excerpt from “When We Gather at the Table: A PC(USA) Snapshot” that describes the attitudes of the dominant progressive group towards the more conservative PCUSA members).
They are less tolerant of conservative theologies within the denomination. Some remain hopeful that conservatives who are upset with the 221st General Assembly (2014) decisions on marriage will see that there are different ways to interpret scripture, and will choose to stay and accept the changes, over time. Others would simply be happy if the conservatives left the PC(USA), and a few offered suggestions for helping dissenting congregations to leave the denomination with grace and dignity.
Thus there are only two options for orthodox Christians described in the thinking of these “Purposeful Progressives,” (1) conform and stay and (2) get out! I’d say that the loss of 1,126 churches is well aligned with the “get out!” goal.
I predict that it will soon be virtually impossible for a PCUSA church to find a newly graduated minister who is opposed to gay ordination and marriage. This is because in 2014 hundreds of PCUSA seminary students who don’t support the gay agenda likely up and left. Thus, only the supportive students are and will be graduating. I also very much doubt that orthodox Reformed ministry candidates look to the PCUSA any longer as a denomination in which they can honestly live out their calling. Given the direction of the denomination it will be increasingly difficult for existing churches / pastors who oppose gay ordination and marriage to exist as well.
I’ve been pretty hard on our leadership. However, all the rest of us need to face up to what we have let them do to this denomination for generations. Are we going to continue looking away? Or, are we going to begin demanding accountability for this debacle?