The CRC is losing members.
The 2007 CRC Denominational Yearbook reports that the membership stood at 269,856; it was comprised of 75,620 families.
The 2013 Yearbook reports that the membership stood at 248,258, comprised of 73,425 families.
The “loss” over the last six years was 21,598 members, the equivalent of 2,195 families.
Most well-established denominations lose members. We have talked about it. Last summer's synod has talked about it. We have tried to find the causes. We wondered what to do about it.
Church-growth creates its own momentum. Growth creates an atmosphere of growth. Growth creates growth. Is the opposite also true? Perhaps, but that conclusion would probably be too simple. Much more reflection needs to be done.
Is the “loss” of members a sign of spiritual malaise? That, too, is a hard question to answer. In the presence of the Lord we humbly confess our shortcomings. But were the previous generations more devoutly Christian than we are today? We would not be quick to say 'yes' to that. And those who left, were they disappointed with their local church? Several probably were, but many others will have left for reasons of personal taste, needs and changed circumstances.
I have been in contact with church-leaders who interviewed many of those who left, trying to determine a possible trends. They found that the reasons varied enormously.
It has also been established that many of our young people, after they leave the home, do not join a Christian Reformed church. Some have joined another church, others remained “churchless.”
This blog post does not presume to suggest solutions. But we can agree on this much: the matter of membership loss is one of the most serious problems our denomination has faced so far in its history. How to address it is worthy of serious study, prayer, repentance, and discussion.
The CRC' Strategic Planning and Adaptive Change Team (SPACT) submitted a report, called: “Discerning God's Mission Together: Join the Conversation.” It contains a lot of helpful observations and suggestions. Several communities around Canada and the US are now discussing that report.
What are your thoughts on the recent losses within the denomination?