'Boutique' approach not working out so well for PCUSA

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Bill Bumpas (OneNewsNow.com)

More Light PresbyteriansA spokesman for a conservative Christian think tank says new statistics from the Presbyterian Church USA show a denomination that desperately needs to develop a sense of urgency in sharing the gospel.

According to the numbers, the membership of the PCUSA has declined by nearly five percent in the last year – and at a time when America is becoming more diverse, the denomination is somehow becoming less diverse: it is 91-percent white. "We are not dying," said one official last year. "We are reforming." While acknowledging the decline in membership, another said in 2015: "The denomination is settling into the new thing God is creating."

OneNewsNow spoke with Jeffrey Walton, who directs the Anglican program for The Institute on Religion & Democracy. Examining the denomination's decreasing stats, he says when there's no driving motivator to share the gospel, growth is going to be limited.

Walton, Jeff (IRD)"Right now the Presbyterian Church USA's denomination leadership is primarily viewing it as a boutique church designed for middle- to upper middle-class whites who are politically liberal and theologically liberal," he explains.

Walton tells OneNewsNow that by focusing on a "niche" demographic, the PCUSA has excluded other groups. "Intentionally, they've excluded political conservatives and theological conservatives," he explains, "but unintentionally they've also excluded growing populations of nonwhites and people from lower economic classes."

According to Walton, the PCUSA has lost well in excess to 40 percent of its members in the last decade. "That is not gradual decline; that is a catastrophic level of decline," he adds.

The IRD spokesman acknowledges that while there may be several causes, he attributes the denomination's decline in membership to one major factor: its decision to redefine Christian marriage as between "any two persons." The LGBTQ movement within the denomination is known as "More Light Presbyterians."

The "absolute most alarming statistic," according to Walton? Adult baptisms have "decreased so dramatically even in the last year, it means there won't be a turnaround anytime in the near future for the PCUSA." There were nearly 4,800 baptisms in 2017; but one year later, there's only been 2,900.

The PCUSA is currently gathered in St. Louis for its biennial General Assembly.

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