Like most other mainline denominations, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has been losing members since the 1960s. We are down to about half the size that we once were. And this decline logically comes from many (most likely a majority) of churches losing members on a near-yearly basis.
But the average Presbyterian church seems indifferent to this reality. Sure, there is nervousness and some small lament of the declining number of “nickels and noses,” but how many churches actually acknowledge this reality and really wish to do the hard work of trying to reverse the decline? Acknowledging churches: few. Really working to reverse it: even fewer.
So here comes my question. Let’s put aside the notion that members and numbers may not be the best indicator of a faithful or successful church (duh). Doesn’t the average Presbyterian with kids/grandkids want the church to be around for their grown kids/grandkids? The writing is on the wall but most people seem interested in preserving the church they are used to, rather than helping to create one that will be there in the future.
You could switch "Presbyterian" for "Disciple" and I think the same thing would hold true for those of us in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I think more often than not, when churches are talking about growth, they want growth without really changing. I think there are a lot of churches out there that want to live as if its 1958.
But the thing is, there can be no growth without some change. When babies grow, they outgrow their clothes. Parents don't try to keep putting on clothes that no longer fit. But churches seem at times to want to use the same methods and ways of thinking that no longer make sense in 2008.
Many of the Disciple churches that I have visited are graying, with few people under 40. Do most Disciples care about this? Maybe, I don't know.
What do others think?