The conservative evangelical Presbyterian Church in America has reported a net loss in members for the first time in its three dozen years. The PCA, formed from congregations that left the southern-states Presbyterian Church in the U.S. in 1973, saw membership decline from 345,582 in 2007 to 340,852 in 2008.
Southern Baptists opened their annual meeting last month with calls to turn around plummeting baptism rates, even as researchers warned that the nation’s largest Protestant body could lose half its size by mid-century.
Perhaps instead of asking confirmands to confirm the vows made at their baptisms, members should confirm the vows they made to these teens at their baptisms—confirming the validity of those vows and the congregation’s love and commitment to them, no matter what the teens may believe at the moment or where life may take them. The candidates would be asked to receive the love of the congregation and a recommitment of what the congregation offered them at their baptisms. Even if the teens leave the church, as many will, those commitments would be like a light kept in the window until they are ready to return home.
The nation has grown less religious in the last two decades, a new study shows, with a 10 percent drop in the number of people who call themselves Christians and increases in all 50 states among those who are not aligned with any faith.
Among U.S. churches of better-than-average size and budget, nearly half are feeling the impact of the deepening recession and are being forced in many cases to cut staff or freeze salaries. Donations are down, said 48 percent of church leaders surveyed at these churches in February. Last August, 41 percent of respondents reported a downward trend in donations at a time when Wall Street financial firms needed rescue and gasoline prices were sky high. But although the unemployment rate is rising, credit is tight as a drum and stock and home values are shriveling, 52 percent of congregational executives reported that donations at their churches have not declined.