Author and Presbyterian pastor Carol Howard Merritt is writing a series of posts about the work she is doing as part of a task force formed to explore generational and cultural changes in the PC(USA). She is inviting us to share in the process via discussion of her posts. Here’s an important statement from her initial entry:
It’s clear that God is doing a new thing in our midst, and in this important time of discernment, we can become open to what and who God is calling us to become. In the PC(USA), the average age of our membership is over 60 and the median Sunday morning attendance is about 70. Clearly, a lot of things will be changing in the next 20 years. My hope is that many churches will continue to exist in health. Just because a church is small, does not mean that it’s dying or that it’s ill. Often it simply means that it’s small.
The problem comes if that church is not able to reach out to a new generation or to its neighbors. If that happens, then churches will come to the end of their life spans. Their assets will become available and we will use them to plant new congregations that are able to tell the good news in our particular time and place. From time to time, I hear, “We’re closing churches! Why would we start new ones? We can’t keep the ones we have going!”