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More smaller churches – but not in a good way

February 12th, 2011 No comments

There’s nothing to rejoice over in this report from the PC(USA)’s Research Services unit. Since reunification, the denomination has lost an average of 40,541 members a year (net) and we’re down about a third, from about three million down to a hair over two.

The headline (“Fewer members = smaller congregations”) says what might be the most disturbing thing about our decline. The average congregation has dropped in size from 268 in 1983 to 152 today. In the same period, the median size of a congregation has declined from 195 to 97.

Fully half of our congregations (mine among them) have 100 or fewer members–and that’s members, not worship attenders. God is still in heaven, and Jesus fed a multitude with just five loaves and two fishes, but even so, how many of those congregations are financially viable?