The Incredible Shrinking Mainline

The PCUSA continues its statistical decline. As a firm believer in the Scottish revivals I might be tempted to take this as a sign of health but, in this case, it doesn’t seem to be an indicator of faithfulness. Of course the NAPARC churches aren’t exactly bursting at the seams. It turns out that no one seems to no exactly how big the PCA (the largest NAPARC group) is. Most of the NAPARC groups seem to be holding steady or growing slowly.

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Where revivalists are tempted to think big numbers are a sign of faithfulness, Presbies seems almost equally vulnerable to the siren song that decrease is a sign of health/faithfulness. It has always seemed to me that what we have in common is not only a penchant to interpret numbers but, worse, that there may be a way to manipulate the Most High. Unfortunately for both (or is it fortunate?), godliness and numbers can have about as much in common as fish and bicycles.

  2. I have been enjoying your blog and i usually check it daily. keep up the good work. by the way, my wife and i sat behind you in church on sunday. we met you a few sundays ago. Hope you are well.

  3. I was raised in that denomination, and from the saints in that congregation got a fairly good grounding in the faith (though not anything like classical WSC standards). Good enough to steer me away from all manner of religious wackiness since.

    Now, they tolerate the likes of Rev. Jane “Sophia” Spahr, who thinks we obsess on Jesus too much, and should worship the goddess Sophia instead. Another place I can’t in good conscience go back to.

    The shrinkage has been going on for something like 40 straight years. I suspect they will end up like the Unitarians, a withered leftist pagan core, Christian in name only.

    Maybe somebody should preach the gospel to them.

  4. Hi Zrim,

    I think that’s a great point. I did say “tempted” but I take your point. Neither being the select of the elect nor endlessly elastic is what we want.

    Hi Josh,

    Sorry we didn’t get to say “Hi,” but I’m glad you were back. It was really hot Sunday. I hope we can get the AC turned on this week. That’s probably the hottest it’s ever been in there.

    Hi Lee,

    There are some encouraging signs in the PCUSA but the fact is that neither I nor anyone like me could be ordained or admitted to the ministry of the PCUSA. When I was in Chicago I thought about it. I thought that perhaps I could be useful but when I enquired of some colleagues I was told that unless I held a Barthian view of Scripture and female ordination I would not be admitted by the Presbytery. I doubt that presbytery is an exception. So long as the PCUSA denies ordination to confessionalists I don’t think she’s going to last. Folks have been writing “What do we do now?” books about the PCUSA for 30+ years and it never seems to occur to them to say, “Hey, maybe we made a mistake chasing out all the confesionalists?” Brad Longfield’s book complains that the confessionalists left and he seemed to want us to come back he doesn’t explain how we could ever return without signing a surrender of major elements of historic Reformed Christianity.

  5. The support of gay marriage really boils down to the authority of Scripture. If it wasn’t gay marriage and gay ministers it would be something else. The point of being a “mainline” denom is to be as inclusive.

  6. Would the PCUSA have any spiritual wisdom left to enforce its church polity? It hasn’t shown any in the past, so why expect anything different this time?

Comments are closed.