Here’s another sobering riff on the theme of “18 years“.
Last week the Office of the General Assembly released the 2012 statistics for the Presbyterian Church (USA). The numbers aren’t good, more signs of our rapid decline (and the similar decline of all mainline Protestant—and even evangelical—denominations).
- Our membership has dropped to 1,849,496.
- This represents a decline of 102,791 members. About half of these are due to transfers.
- 86 churches were dissolved.
- 110 congregations were dismissed to other denominations.
- While losing these 196 churches, we only organized 13 new congregations—quite a bit short of the 1001 goal we’ve set for ourselves.
I’ve said it before: this is simply not sustainable.
Our losses were slightly greater last year than in recent years, but if we continue at this rate, the PC(USA) has about 18 years left. (I realize, of course, that the math isn’t that simple.)
So when we celebrate my newborn son’s 18th birthday in 2030, we’ll also be marking the death of the PC(USA)—if we haven’t already.
Can anything be done to change this trajectory? Should anything be done? Or are all forms of American Protestantism dying an inevitable death as something new is born?