2 July, 2022

Disciples See Deep Drop in Attendance

by | 28 August, 2019 | 2 comments

If its current rate of decline continues, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination could lose half its membership over the next 10 years, according to an Institute on Religion and Democracy blog post by Jeffrey Walton.

Numbers provided by the DOC’s Office of General Minister and President show that total membership declined 7 percent from 2017 to 2018, from about 411,000 to around 382,248. Likewise, average worship attendance declined 11 percent, from 140,000 to 124,000, Walton wrote on IRD’s blog, Juicy Ecumenism. Also, baptisms dropped from 4,344 to 3,782, down 13 percent, while other additions (including transfers in) declined 6.4 percent, from 7,441 to 6,969.

Walton said the Disciples—led by “denominational officials [who] strongly embrace social justice causes”—likely were the fastest-declining major U.S.-based church last year.

Walton acknowledged that the denomination’s switch to an online reporting format led a smaller number of congregations to report their attendance figures.

“A universalist theology appears to be sapping the evangelistic vigor of clergy [among the Disciples],” Walton told the Christian Post. He cited research that indicates the denomination’s clergy is more liberal than the overall membership.

“On a more anecdotal level, I’m hearing from Disciples members who are tired of political lectures in general from their clergy during Sunday worship services. . . . They’d like to hear the gospel preached, but their clergy are more focused upon social witness and, in the words of one Disciples’ congregant, ‘milquetoast sermons.’”

The Disciples and two other church groups trace their roots back to the Restoration Movement forged by Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell, and others in the early 1800s. The noninstrumental churches of Christ peeled off in 1906 (they remain nondenominational), and the Disciples broke away in the 1960s (the Disciples became a denomination in 1968). That left the nondenominational Christian churches and churches of Christ, the main constituency of Christian Standard.

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com

2 Comments

  1. John Allcott

    If the “Disciples of Christ” would focus on actually making disciples (instead of pursuing left-wing beliefs and causes), they would grow, not decline.

Latest News

How God Plans to Make America (and All Nations) Great Again

Many American churchgoers are asking: “When will God bring revival to this nation and restore our Christian foundations?” The desire for a country based on Christian morality and for revival is not unlike the concern in Jesus’ day for the restoration of Israel, its freedom, and economic prosperity. . . .

Ukrainians Plant Crops, Gardens Despite Uncertainty

As Ukrainians struggle to grow food this summer, they fear that Russian troops might steal whatever can be harvested. Anya and Andrei are trying to garden for the first time at a relative’s small country home. Neighbors have tried to help them as much as possible . . .

Brown Called as President of DCHS

Dr. Joel Brown has been called to serve as president of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. He will begin his new role with DCHS on Sept. 1. He is replacing Rick Lowery, who is retiring.

Help Wanted

Norwin Christian Church in North Huntingdon, PA, is seeking a director of small groups and outreach.

Fire Destroys Iowa City Church Building (Plus Other News Briefs)

The Iowa City Church building was destroyed in an early morning fire Saturday as a strong storm that produced lightning and caused flash flood warnings rolled through the area. . . . Plus briefs from Tonganoxie Christian Church, Casas por Cristo, Garfield Christian Church, and more.

Follow Us