Presbyterian Decline

Presbyterians Collapsing, or “Settling Into The New Thing God is Creating”?

on May 13, 2015

A slimmed-down Presbyterian Church (USA) is apparently getting ready for beach season after shedding unwanted excess members, according to a cheery report by the denomination’s top official.

“The PC(USA) is a church made up of vibrant congregations doing their best to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in their communities and in the world,” an apparently unfazed Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PCUSA, soothed. “Membership declines continue, but on a whole the denomination is settling into the new thing God is creating.”

In case Presbyterians are wondering what the “new thing” looks like, the PCUSA’s Office of the General Assembly revealed today a loss of 92,433 members (down 5.54 percent) to a total membership of 1,667,767 in 2014. The Presbyterian Layman has a thorough write-up on the increasingly negative trajectory that the liberalizing denomination finds itself locked into. (Incidentally, the Layman’s Carmen Fowler LaBerge notes a count of former PCUSA churches that joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church or Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO) in 2014. It exceeds the 101 churches officially listed as dismissed from the PCUSA in 2014, making us wonder if the congregation losses are in fact underreported).

The 2014 numbers reveal the church’s largest statistical decline to date. Last year, Parsons offered equally silly commentary on the losses.

“Yes, the numbers reflect a decrease in active members in the denomination,” Parsons acknowledged of the 2013 figures. “But the numbers also illustrate fewer losses than the previous year. The membership declined by 89,296 in 2013, compared to 102,791 in 2012.”

Now that the number of persons departing the denomination has increased from 89,296 to 92,433, and the statistical rate of decline has bumped from 4.83 percent to 5.54 percent, Parsons can no longer soothe fellow church bureaucrats in Louisville that decline is somehow slowing – it isn’t. For those keeping track, the PCUSA has lost a staggering 645,895 members since 2005, 28 percent of the denomination’s members having vanished. The PCUSA and its two predecessor bodies have been in decline since 1965.

The PCUSA’s rate of decline is now exceeding all of its Oldline Protestant peers. As IRD’s Alex Griswold wrote last August in the Federalist, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

Update [5/23/2016]: Membership loss for the PCUSA continues to accelerate. In 2015, the denomination shed another 95,107 members — a six percent decline following three straight years of 5 percent declines — bringing the total active membership to 1,572,660. According to the PCUSA’s summary of statistics, the denomination has dropped in the number of children baptized by one quarter between 2012-2015, and adult baptisms have declined by a third in the same time period.

  1. Comment by yolo on May 13, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    It’ll be gone by 2030.

  2. Comment by Disqus User on May 13, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    The second largest numerical loss in the last decade and the largest percentage loss. And that’s before the impact of this summer’s latest apostasy is factored in for next year. I’d be curious as the age of the remaining membership and the number of members/attendees under the age of 25.

  3. Comment by Tom Richards on May 14, 2015 at 12:01 am

    There will be a fight over the endowments at the end. The national office shouldn’t get the money because they don’t deserve it. Their kind of leadership should not be rewarded with life tenures and no pews to bother with.

  4. Comment by O'Pinyon on May 16, 2015 at 2:40 am

    It would be great, it seems to me, to shut it down now and split the endowment between all the congregations, refunding the money of those who left.

  5. Comment by Arbuthnaught on May 14, 2015 at 2:49 am

    It is even worse than it looks. More churches are headed for the exit this year. There are an even larger number of churches that would like to leave but can’t due to property issues and a hostile presbytery. It is possilbe that a changing legal climate on church property may make it easier to win against presbyter in property disputes. If more churches feel confident about winning property lawsuits against presbytery, that may accelerate the decline of the PCUSA. Many members are just leaving in ones and twos etc. As more responsible conservative congregations leave, there will be less and less of a brake on crazy, looney left antics. As the liberal extremeism gets worse, even more moderate churches may find the climate inside the PCUSA more than they can take. What we are witnessing is denominational implosion. Just as Christians prayed for the fall of the Soviet Union, pray for the fall of the PCUSA.

  6. Comment by 4 WIW on May 14, 2015 at 8:34 am

    The Lord is purifying His church. Those who understand the fallacy of calling immorality something other that what it is are right to depart the PCUSA. May God bless them richly in their new church homes.

  7. Comment by Lewis Thompson on May 8, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I left the PC(USA) in 2014 after being a Presbyterian all of my life. I could no longer take the extreme, unbiblical radical Leftwing Social Justice Warrior positions of the church. The only reason why it still has 1.5 million members is that many of the local ministers have concealed the Radical Positions and Doctrines of the National Church from most of their parishioners. Go to an average PCUSA Church and you will see that over 50% of the attendees are over 65. I think that they have stayed (1) out of habit and tradition and (2) because they are unaware of the Church’s extremist doctrines, such as commencing the 2017 General Assembly with a prsyer to Allah. I know that most ministers NEVER told their parish about this abomination. The other reason why membership has stayed as high as it is is because of state laws that are hostile to a congregation being able to retain the church property.

  8. Comment by polistra24 on May 14, 2015 at 9:01 am

    The best part: After a certain lower threshold is reached, the denomination will no longer be attractive to Satan. His whole purpose in invading these big and powerful mainline denominations was to use their economic and cultural influence.

    No influence = no longer worth infesting.

    Automatic purification.

    The ‘invisible hand’ still works in churches, even though it has been eliminated from business by QE, ZIRP, HFT and other mechanistic controls.

  9. Comment by Wild Biker Bill on May 19, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Once Satan comes in the door, He is never done until His destruction is complete.

  10. Comment by Mark Brooks on May 14, 2015 at 9:09 am

    You can anticipate that lawsuits against departing churches will increase. Apostates may not care very much for departing Christians — good riddance is their mindset I’m sure — but they understand money and property, and that they want, if only to stave off for a little while longer turning the lights out.

  11. Comment by BJ on May 14, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    What is even more interesting about this decline is that the PCUSA has an institutional protection that prevents churches from leaving. Even though the local congrgation funds the building and property, the larger Presbytery has the ownership rights. Given that many congregations stayed in the PCUSA merely because they couldn’t afford to leave, these numbers of decline are even more staggering.

  12. Comment by Mark Brooks on May 14, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Agreed. I’m used to a congregational model, as one finds in the New Testament, so I’m rather surprised at how local congregations in some denominations simply handed over their right to properties they bought and paid for to some distant hierarchy. In any event, Christians need to be owned by God, and not by things. Christians have been purchased for a price, yes? So if it means leaving a building, leave it. I think that’s what happened. At the end of the day, PC USA can own the building but not the people. The Christians voted for God with their feet.

  13. Comment by BJ on May 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Amen! As a newly-minted Presbyterian who comes from a non-denominational, Baptistic-type background, I would argue for a blend between the Presbyterian type council model with an emphasis on an empowered local congregation. The group that I have become a part of is the Evangelical Presbyterian Church where they kept a focus on councils, but moved to empower the local congregations through a number of things, but the most obvious is that we have rights to our own building. I pray that we never liberalize the way PCUSA has, but in the event that happens, getting out will be much easier.

  14. Comment by Reformed Catholic on May 14, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    FWIW … many congregations did not cede any property to the denomination. The trust clause was put in to effect at the time of the merger/reunion of the UPCUSA & PCUS.

    Many congregations have nothing in their deeds that indicate a property trust in favor of the denomination. In those states that follow neutral principles of law when it comes to property disputes, the congregation holds the cards.

  15. Comment by Arbuthnaught on May 14, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I think you are correct. When neutral principles of law are applied, the courts do not let an outside group walk in and unilaterally ammend a deed, a trust, or an incorporation. In neutral principles of law juristictions, a church can ammend its bylaws just like any other incorporated entity and associate with any group they want.

  16. Comment by Mark Brooks on May 18, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Thanks for making this point, and you are correct, the trust clause only matters in a dispute with a local church if that church undertook some legal act that gives it effect. Unfortunately, many did, and did so, I think, without fully understanding the consequences.

  17. Comment by Arbuthnaught on May 14, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I think you are correct in your outlook. As a life time evangelical Presbyterian, I must say the Presbyterian model only works in the context of a church super structure that takes the bible seriously and if the denominational super structure is evangelical. The idea was that if the denomination held the property in trust, that would put the brakes on local church squabbles and to keep local congregations from going off the rails a la Westboro Baptist. That worked to a point, but now the denominational superstructure is apostate so in the long run, what use is the trust clause?

  18. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 14, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Given that Catholicism is declining faster than the mainline, asserting that orthodox theology is a preventative is simply wishful thinking. The primary reason for evangelical success is due mostly to higher birth rates over the last thirty years. That is no longer the case. The demographic wave drowning the mainline is currently lapping at your toes. In any case mainline attendance is still higher than most periods in U.S. history. This isn’t decline, it’s a return to normal religious equilibrium.

  19. Comment by Mark Brooks on May 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Depends on your definition of “orthodox”. Calvin and Luther would tell you that Catholicism departed orthodoxy long ago. So would many of the Eastern churches.

    It is “institutional” and “nominal” Christianity that is dying. There’s no factual basis for your argument that this is tied to birth rates. The declines in Catholic and mainline attendance are far in excess of any decline in birth rates. You assertions sound more like wishful thinking.

  20. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 14, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Replace orthodox with conservative theology on sexuality and the argument stands. You weren’t actually countering the argument anyway. Reliable facts come from specialists not opinion bloggers. The underlying data can be found at the General Social Survey site –
    “According to Mike Hout, a sociologist at New York University, evangelicals who want to blame the decline of mainline Protestantism on liberalism are simply not paying attention. He says that population data has always indicated that the mainline decline was mostly attributable to birthrates, a notion he published in an article in the American Journal of Sociology.”

    “Seventy percent of mainline decline as it
    was known in those days was due to the fact that evangelical women were
    having one more child on average than women in the mainline tradition,”
    Hout says. “This trend prevailed until right around the turn of the (21st) century.”

  21. Comment by cjinva on May 19, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Some might be a difference in birthrate, but the article is about Presbyterian losses in just the last decade — 28%. The birthrate hasn’t fallen off that drastically since 2005. Obviously something else is at work in the PCUSA. (And given that my friends at the local PCUSA in my area are talking about leaving, I can guess…)

    My husband and I are Exhibit A for what happened to the mainline churches. We both grew up in mainline denominations in the 1960’s/1970’s. Now, no one in either of our families (parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. — about 50 people according to my estimate) attends a mainline church. We all attend evangelical churches.

  22. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 19, 2015 at 11:23 am

    It’s important to remember that PCUSA was formed from two separate denominations that originally split over slavery. The Cumberland Presbyterians where always evangelical and the more northern churches were always theologically liberal. We are seeing a schism but it’s a return to a past when the separate denominations where smaller. When I was a Presbyterian kid in the sixties there where at least 20 Baptists worshiping across the street for every one of us. Getting smaller isn’t really a problem if your Presbyterian. They where never numerous outside of Scotland in the first place. Frankly they make an easy target and all this Presbyterian bashing just comes off looking petty.

  23. Comment by Joe Katzman on May 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Benjamin – Nice try asking people not to talk about inconvenient facts. They’re going to decline your ungenerous offer, and good for them.

    To other readers: the birthrate thing isn’t the whole story, but don’t ignore it, either. It makes a big difference to Christianity’s long term future.

    Note that dealing with the birthrate question seriously will challenge a lot of preconceptions, even in so-called conservative congregations. Secular society’s demographic death spiral has an engine, and you must understand it in order to deal with it.

    The good news: Israel is an interesting positive model, as they’re reversing demographic decline even among non-Orthodox.

  24. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 19, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Israel and secular death spirals? What have you been smoking? Pure gibberish.

  25. Comment by Joe Katzman on May 19, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I call below replacement birth rates a demographic death spiral. It’s OK if that’s a bit complex for you, though. We’ll stick to other subjects.

    RE: Israel… what? Is it the mention of the evil Jooos triggering or something?

  26. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 20, 2015 at 5:45 am

    So…your a genuine hack. Nice of you to troll my humble thread. Not getting enough hits on your blog lately? Take off the tinfoil hat and let your brain cool down. Go read some Infowars, you’ll feel better. But please, stop inserting your self promoting BS into threads where people are actually trying to have a meaningful conversation.

  27. Comment by Joe Katzman on May 20, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    “My” humble thread? Really? Self-aggradizement, much?

    No, you are NOT attempting to have a meaningful conversation. You are trying to divert a discussion whose conclusions are uncomfortable, using dishonest attempts to change the subject. Your response to straightforward assertions and the offering of a demographic counterexample is abuse without any pretense of argument.

    You asked what I’ve been smoking? Easy. I’ve been smoking out your true nature. Thanks for obliging.

  28. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 20, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Still trying to get that twitter number over four hundred are we? I’ve read your WSJ article and your deceased blog. Talk about self aggrandizing! By the way you spelled aggrandizement wrong which confirms my suspicion that your public writing is highly edited. Jewish guy trolling a Christian article about Christian theology. You sir are a poser.

  29. Comment by eddiestardust on May 25, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    The Replacement Birthrate is 2.1….Our America Birthrate, just like the ones in most developed countries, is much lower.

  30. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Please note I said higher birthrates not lower. You read my statement backwards. By the way the Pew survey puts current evangelical birthrates at 2.3, still higher than the national average of 2.1. I think you are correct that nominals explain much of the rise in “nones”.

  31. Comment by Disqus User on May 14, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Stark’s research shows that higher birth rates than the surrounding culture explains much of the phenomenal growth of Christianity in its first three centuries. Today, it explains the rapid growth of such sects as the Amish. Mormonism’s growth is also tied to much higher than average birth rates. As to Evangelicals, 2.3 is still a pathetically low number. You have old data on the national average. According to the most recent data, the TFR for America as a whole is less than 1.9.

  32. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    The 2.1 figure comes from the new pew survey so it’s not old data. However you are correct that the current survey does not agree on a number of data points with other recent surveys.

  33. Comment by Joshua Rodd on May 15, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Estimates of Amish birth rates are between 6 and 9 per woman. I saw a statistic of TFR 6.0 somewhere, and an average family size of 9 elsewhere.

    There are no reality TV shows about Presbyterians or Epicospalians, nor do I really ever hear a young person say “I wish I were Presbyterian”. Whereas I do hear them say “I wish I were Amish”.

  34. Comment by Disqus User on May 15, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Like many things, I suspect that being Amish looks better in the abstract than it does in the concrete.

  35. Comment by Joshua Rodd on May 15, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    The point here is that becoming TEC or PCUSA looks good neither in the abstract or the concrete. And the Amish don’t just have a high birth rate; they have a high percentage (85% – 90%) of young adults who choose to join the church.

    Last I checked on the TEC it is about 0%, assuming there are even any young people around at all.

  36. Comment by Disqus User on May 15, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Of course, becoming TEC, PCUSA, or Amish aren’t the only options. That said, the Amish will outgrow just about everyone as long as they are open to God’s blessing of children while others are not.

  37. Comment by eddiestardust on May 19, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I don’t know if one can tie it to birthrates but birthrates of most developed nations are way lower than the Replacement Birth Rate which is 2.1

  38. Comment by yolo on May 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Catholicism is declining faster than the LIBERAL mainline?? Huh?

  39. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    That is what the report says, however Russ Douthat has a more nuanced interpretation here…

  40. Comment by Carlos on May 16, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Deep deep denial there.

    Yeah, true, conservative Christians do have more babies than homosexuals and the elderly. We also get the faith exiles from your churches – the people who still believe in God and Christ and all that sort of thing.

  41. Comment by Benjamin Wortham on May 18, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I’m simply stating facts from the report and other academic sources. You can take it or leave it. Since I haven’t actually mentioned my denomination your second statement is pointless and rude.

  42. Comment by eddiestardust on May 25, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    The Roman Catholic Church has existed for 2,000 years and our teachings…those of Christ , haven’t changed. Some folks may lose their faith but not all. We will weather this, just as we always have.

  43. Comment by Russ Dewey on May 14, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    After a couple of months reading this site, I realized Juicy Ecumenicism has nothing to do with ecumenicism (cooperation and better understanding among different religious denominations). It is a culture wars site. Consistently. Many on the right would be pleased by the way it consistently fights anything progressive.

  44. Comment by Russ Dewey on May 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I guess this was already well known. Wikipedia: “IRD’s conservative social-policy goals include increasing military spending and foreign interventions, opposing environmental protection efforts, and eliminating social welfare programs” and that the organization is non-religious in nature and a front for conservative political groups.

  45. Comment by Joe Laughon on May 14, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Fairly disingenuous quotation. That snippet is from a progressive who disagrees with them. Shocking that it is negative.

  46. Comment by Russ Dewey on May 14, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Oh, I agree! It was from a progressive who disagrees with them. I cherish our freedom of speech in America and have no problem with people founding a site to combat whatever threat they perceive! But I find “JuicyEcumenicism” a very misleading title for the site! They all have smiling portraits, and they basically spend their energies reacting against progressive trends in the culture, so maybe would be better? I don’t think they will buy it.

  47. Comment by Reformed Catholic on May 14, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    In which case, why do you read it if you don’t like their conservatism ?

  48. Comment by Russ Dewey on May 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I’m interested in the great struggles underway. I see this as a unique time in history because things are changing faster than ever before. If you accept evolution, humans were not “designed” for this rate of change! Kurzweil is a bit nutty but he has one thing right: IT is undergoing exponential expansion, and this ripplies through technology and also science where the tools keep getting better.

    As a result, I think we are living in “interesting times” that are a challenge to every single tradition-minded community around the globe. I see the culture wars in the U.S. as only one of many, many similar struggles going on around the world.

    I also see a neglect of the 600 lb gorilla in the room, when people discuss “the decline,” because science is in an unprecedented boom period that shows no signs of stopping (“reactionary” legislators notwithstanding!). The biggest reason for decline is that young people have access to multiple world views now, and they are deciding that science looks, well, truer than many religions…and the religions all contradict each other and fight each other.

    Ecumenicism might seem like a way out, but fundamentalism or literalism or whatever you want to call it ultimately mitigates against compromise or change. That pushes people into schism, as examples throughout history and again recently all show.

    So (I predict) in the end people with ideas much like Mr. Didaskalos above will “triumph” in the sense that they will have the label “Christian” to themselves. Progressive types, feeling less comfortable with an “all or none” acceptance of sometimes implausible doctrines like the Virgin Birth or 6 day genesis, will drop away, feeling unwelcome. Many fewer people will call themselves Christian, and some folks will celebrate that…see Russell Moore’s blog this week. It’s fascinating. I’m guessing the progressives and spiritual-but-not-religious will end up being called post-Christians, because chronlogically that is simple and accurate.

    I feel privileged to able to go onto a site like this and post a respectful, non-trolling, but utterly dissenting viewpoint. What a luxury. Thank goodness for the USA and freedom of expression.

  49. Comment by Xerxesfire on May 16, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Russ, you are correct about how times are rapidly changing. Many things that are happening in the world today were prophesied in the Bible (tensions/war in Middle East, apostasy in churches, hedonism, immorality, vanity, etc.). End times are fast approaching and also the Second Coming of our Lord.

  50. Comment by Russ Dewey on May 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    You are in a great tradition that goes back to the gospel writers and before. I read recently that there were something like 3000 OT prophecies that NT writers saw coming true in their own times!

  51. Comment by M Didaskalos on May 15, 2015 at 6:21 am

    If it’s reactionary to fight heresy, then you have a point. The great Reformer, Martin Luther, had this take on the church’s duty to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”:

    “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

    When entire denominations of mainline Protestantism have sold out to the world and become, effectively, secular bodies that are equal parts Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood, and the Democratic Party, then there’s a lot of contending to be done by the confessional Christian churches.

  52. Comment by Carlos on May 16, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Well, hey, if Wikipedia says it,
    that’s that,

    If you don’t like what you read hear, stick with the unChristian, er, “progressive” sites operated by denominations distinguished by all the empty pews.

  53. Comment by Big Giant Head on May 14, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell ya! By the way, the sky is blue, and water is wet.

  54. Comment by Arbuthnaught on May 14, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    The writers on this blog are highly educated people with advance degrees. They are inherently moderate and understand a lot of what is happening in the larger church. It seems to me that the word juciy applies because they seem to me to be happy warriors and enjoy study, scholarship and the world of competing ideas.

  55. Comment by Arbuthnaught on May 14, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    I would just suggest a more limited definition of the word ecuminism from the one in your post above. It means not thinking that your denomination is the only true church in a narrow clanish way. It mean recognizing the ordinations, sacraments and confirmations of other churches that acknowledge historic christian doctrine. Lots of mainline churches have reciporical agreements to this effect. I would agree that churches of different denominations should look for ways to cooperated to adavance the gospel. I do not think ecumenism should be defined as going along with anyting just for the sake of “understanding”

  56. Comment by M Didaskalos on May 15, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Because “progressive” in today’s ecclesiastical parlance equals “preaching soul-damning heresies,” then yes, the IRD won’t exactly be fostering genial bonhomie with the heretics. The Bible, Christianity’s handbook, takes a notably contrarian view to welcoming and cooperating with anti-biblical teaching:

    John MacArthur notes:

    “. . . Notice what we are supposed to be fighting for. It is not anything petty, personal, mundane, or ego related. It’s not mere wrangling between competing ideologies. It’s not a campaign to refine someone’s religious creed or win denominational bragging rights. It’s not a battle of wits, or a game of any kind.

    “What we are called to defend is no less than “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” He’s talking about a serious struggle to safeguard the heart and soul of the truth itself and unleash that truth against the powers of darkness. Compromised truth has no hope of rescuing the eternal souls of men and women who have been unwittingly ensnared by the trap of devilish deception.

    “This is a battle we cannot wage effectively if we always try to come across to the world as merely nice, nonchalant, docile, agreeable, fun-loving people. We must not take our cues from others who are perfectly happy to compromise the truth whenever possible for “harmony’s” sake. Friendly dialog may sound affable and pleasant. But neither Christ nor the apostles ever confronted serious, soul-destroying error by building collegial relationships with false teachers. In fact, we are expressly forbidden to do that (Romans 16:17, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Timothy 3:5, 2 John 10-11). . . .

    “. . .embracing those heretical systems falsely reassures their followers that all is well between them and God, when actually they are headed for eternal damnation. Partnering in a spiritual enterprise with unbelievers helps Satan muddy the doctrinal waters, and it cripples our ability to preach the need for repentance.

    “Scripture is clear about how we are to respond when the very foundations of the Christian faith are under attack: our duty is to contend, not compromise.”

    “The Cost of Compromise” —

  57. Comment by Carlos on May 16, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    There is tremendous cooperation/ecumenism among committed Christians, just as the declining denominations who think the “gospel” consists of being pro-abortion and pro-sodomy are united both in their commitment to anti-Christian causes and to emptying the pews as rapidly as possible.

    How is that “progressive” stuff working out for you?
    You’ve been telling us for years that keeping the church “relevant” and “inclusive” would ensure that it would attract people.

  58. Comment by Bedouin2015 on May 14, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    PCUSA has abandoned the cornerstone of the Church, Jesus Christ, and has tried to replace it with false doctrines that tickle the ears of men. No church is going to last long after undermining the foundation upon which it was originally founded.

  59. Comment by Lazarus on May 14, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    The last sentence of the article hit the nail on the head. American culture is divided between lust for worldliness and a love for God. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian believer, I can not fully understand what it is western protestant denominations are going through, as all of our parishes seem to be planning expansions. People are converting at a high rate, thank God.

  60. Comment by Disqus User on May 15, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Do you have any data on the growth of Eastern Orthodoxy. I recall hearing anecdotal evidence maybe a decade ago in agreement with your assessment, but I’ve never seen hard data. Thanks.

  61. Comment by Lazarus on May 15, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    All I know is what I see, which is a lot of young educated people, from every walk of life, entering into the Church. It’s not the emotion filled thousands upon thousands in a sports arena evangelical movement, but the people who are converting are very devout and hungry for truth (and most of all salvation).

  62. Comment by Xerxesfire on May 16, 2015 at 1:59 am

    I love Parsons’ “settling into the new thing God is creating”. I would say it’s not God but man who created this “new thing” with preaching a social gospel, rather than Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been bored by this type of sermon or hearing that we should just “love the person who sinned” with the underlying message of no preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to them. Loving others is fine and expected as Christians, but we don’t want to love them into Hell because we never shared the Gospel with them. PCUSA’s social gospel emphasis has been its undoing. Russ Dewey mentioned how rapidly things are changing and he’s correct. We are rapidly heading to end times, as foretold in the Bible.

  63. Comment by Jason P Taggart on May 17, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    When you try to “spin” membership loss, you only make yourselves look foolish. It’s like having your house burn down, so you tell passersby, “I spend a lot less time now on household chores.”

    Btw, it’s not just about issues of sexuality and marriage, but a whole nasty bundle of left-wing causes – whatever the secular left is pushing, the PCUSA is right behind them. When the church looks just like the world outside its walls, why bother going inside?

  64. Comment by Xerxesfire on May 17, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Exactly right Jason. You hit the proverbial nail right on its head! There are some pastors who don’t believe in the Essential Tenets of the Faith. I know of one who is ultra liberal and believes the Bible to be a book of fairy tales and stories, refers to the Holy Spirit as the Great Spirit, doesn’t really believe in the virgin birth of Christ, supports SSM, etc. His sermons are full of social gospel dreck.

    Also when PCUSA turns away from supporting Israel, then God surely is not going to bless PCUSA. The denomination has long ago gone over the slippery slope to the point of no return, I think. It’s no wonder so many of the remaining conservatives are leaving as fast as they can and not looking back.

  65. Comment by Rick on December 29, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Those who believe the Bible is not the inspired Word of God tend to pick and choose what they want to believe. Those people, without realizing it maybe, are calling Jesus Christ a liar and no one who does that can call themselves Christian if they do not believe in Him. Many times Jesus said “it is written”. I think these people are getting lost in being Presbyterian. I am a Christian first, and a Methodist second. The PCUSA never mentions that many are leaving and going to other more conservative churches (ECO, PCA, EPC, ARP. etc) which still believe in Scriptures are the word of God. Where I live there are few of those and many still in the PCUSA do not believe in the nonsense adopted by the General Assembly, who considers those who are leaving unwanted excess members. I think the real truth is that these former members do not want the Presbyterian Church (USA).

  66. Comment by Xerxesfire on December 31, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Very true!

  67. Comment by AmethystTear on October 24, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Actually, with concepts like tolerance, unconditional love and having a safe place for all people to be with God, these churches are very much NOT like the outside world. To me, many of the churches I’ve experienced or just like the outside world which is why I avoided them. Churches like the Presbyterian ones, UCC and others is how I wish the world was. Tolerant, caring and open to having a relationship with all people and spending time with God together.

  68. Comment by Wild Biker Bill on May 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    ““Membership declines continue, but on a whole the denomination is settling into the new thing God is creating.”

    A corpse?

  69. Comment by stjones911 on May 25, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    One reason the numbers don’t add up is because PCUSA bureaucrats count congregations as members until they are “dismissed” by their presbytery. Our church walked away and joined the EPC after we concluded that our presbytery was interested only in misleading and stalling, not dismissing. For some period of time, we were counted as a member congregation by both the EPC and the PCUSA. I don’t know how long the PCUSA maintained this fiction.

    Parsons and his predecessors live in a world of their own creation, so it’s not surprising that they’re focusing their attention on this “new thing” they are creating. Nor is it surprising that they’re blaming God for their apostasy.

  70. Comment by Sad Day on September 5, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Maybe local churches leaving the PCUSA should make an argument that leaving the voluntary association that is the PCUSA is like demutualization and, as such, all churches who contributed to the PCUSA remain entitled to a share of the net worth (including endowment) of the PCUSA as neutral principles continue to develop in the courts. And so, the PCUSA would owe the local church – rather than the other way ’round.

  71. Comment by DrWhy on March 13, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    So I’m late to the party here, but I was just thinking about this issue of declining mainline protestant denominations. As a former regular attender (never an official member) of one of the larger PC(USA) churches, this denomination’s decline has been of the most direct interest to me. I’m wondering what is the real health impact of this decline is on the individual churches of the PC(USA). To do that you’d have to talk about the change in size of the congregations still in the denomination, excluding the effects of churches that still exist, but have moved to other denominations (or that have become independent congregations). Talking just about the number of bodies in pews, it would be interesting to see the average change in active membership in each church still in the denomination. Just an overall average congregation size wouldn’t be enough either because that is also affected by the relative size of the churches that leave the denomination. You’d have to look at each congregation, get information on how it has either grown or shrunk, and average those numbers together. It would be interesting to look at both the average numerical change as well as the average percentage change. I wonder has anyone done these calculations?

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