The Disciples of Christ could lose half their membership within ten years if the current rate of decline remains the same, according to a report by the Institute on Religion & Democracy.
Also known as the Christian Church, the Disciples saw their membership decline by 7 percent, going from approximately 411,000 in 2017 to approximately 382,000 in 2018, according to an entry posted Tuesday on the IRD’s blog Juicy Ecumenism.
Worship attendance fell 11 percent, going from about 139,000 in 2017 to about 124,000 in 2018, and baptisms declined by 13 percent, from approximately 4,300 in 2017 to approximately 3,700 in 2018.
Jeff Walton, author of the theologically conservative group’s entry, drew from statistics provided by the mainline Protestant denomination’s Office of General Minister and President, which appear in the Church’s 2019 yearbook.
“At the current rate, the denomination will shrink by another 50 percent within a decade,” wrote Walton. “This annual rate of decline exceeds that of the Presbyterian Church (USA) which reported a nearly 5 percent membership drop for the year 2018 and held the distinction of ‘fastest declining’ for much of the decade.”
Walton added a disclaimer that the denomination switched to an online reporting format and as a result, a smaller number of congregations submitted a report.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Walton explained that the Disciples’ decline in membership exceeded that of all other mainline Protestant churches, with their 7 decrease being larger than the 1-3 percent annual declines reported by The Episcopal Church and American Baptist Churches USA, or the 5-6 percent declines reported by the PC(USA) and the United Church of Christ.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski