Two recent news stories reflect changes in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and American culture:
Presbyterian News Service reports that 42.5 percent of PC(USA) members worship in a medium-sized congregation, meaning a congregation size of 150-599 members. As recently as 2012, however, the average PC(USA) congregation was small. Currently NHPC has just over 200 members.
The Pew Research Center just released its 2014 Religious Landscape survey, which indicated a rising number of Americans claiming to have no religious affiliation. Survey results also reflected declining membership in mainline Protestant denominations, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
So, although the PC(USA) is a smaller denomination on the whole, the “face” of the denomination is the medium-sized church: a church like New Hope.
The medium-sized church has its own challenges. Sunday attendance of 90-plus people often means running in to people you don’t know. Programs such as those offered by larger churches may be just out of reach, in terms of budget and staff/volunteers. The pastor is pulled in many different directions.
Medium-sized churches are constantly changing, just like the world around us. I hope we can speak a word of grace to every person around us (mainline, evangelical, “none”, adherents of other religious traditions) who feels pushed, pulled, frustrated by hopes just out of reach, and a little bit lost in a complex world.
Pew Research Center America’s Changing Religious Landscape