Jan 12, 2012

PC(USA)...Who Really is the PC(USA)?

According to the statistical data of the PC(USA), as of 2010 the PC(USA) was made up of:
  • 10,560 congregations
  • 2,016,091 members
  • 13,264 teaching elders (ordained ministers)
This means that the clergy make up a total of .0667% of the membership of the church. 

Read that again, the clergy make up less than 1% of the membership of the church.
  • Of the teaching elders, there were a total of 2,366 specialized clergy. 
  • The specialized clergy represent 17.8% of all teaching elders.
Why am I telling you all this?

Because when it comes to who the PC(USA) is, the non-clergy members of the church make up more than 99% of the life of the church.

So when you ask the question what does the PC(USA) believe about the authority of scripture, the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ, salvation, sexuality, etc., the non-ordained clergy are much more historically orthodox than both the clergy, and in particular, compared to the specialized clergy.

In 2008 Presbyterian Panel Survey reports the following:
The survey shows what many have already known: that the membership of the church is much more historically orthodox than the clergy, and in particular the specialized clergy.

So who are Presbyterians? What do the Presbyterians believe?

Don't look to the clergy. They represent less than .0667% of the PC(USA). 

And particularly don't look to the specialized clergy to make declarations of what the PC(USA) believes. They represent less than .0012% of the PC(USA).

Ask the people, the members who they believe Jesus is. Ask the members what they believe about the authority of scripture.

The non-clergy members make up more than 99% percent of the church.

More than ever, the PC(USA) needs to claim the priesthood of ALL believers.


Lee Wyatt said...

So just like the larger world, the 1% shape the life of the 99% in less than happy ways!

Larry J said...

So, how is it that no one is listening to "We, the people"?

pastor thalos said...

But they are the teachers... don't forget. That is the definition of "teaching elder". They set the vision and direction...

Whit said...

Pastor Thalos, so how's that workin' out for us? Seems like the Clergy 1% is leading us off the cliff to a post-Christian future, just like the intellectual 1% is leading us off the cliff of post-Americanism.

James Kim said...

I wrote this post because people keep referring to a "they" in discussing matters about the PC(USA). There is no "they". PC(USA) is us.

The membership of the PC(USA) is who the PC(USA) is. Don't let the less than 1% take that away - and I am speaking as one of the 1%.

It reminds me of an organizational leadership truth: if the personal pronoun used in conversations about the organization is "they" and "them" instead of "we" and "us", "they" "them" "we" and "us" all in trouble.

James <><

Tom Paine said...

I don't know why this should be surprising to anyone. It has always been this way in the Presbyterian Church of every generation. And yes, even in bygone days, the clergy who the laity requires to go off and spend three or more years on seminary education, have always had different views than the average lay person. What would change is if the laity no longer values the theological education their clergy receive.

Anonymous said...

Dear James,

Thanks for the reminder. Here's another important detail. Clergy and especially specialized non-parish clergy vote in disproportionate numbers at the Presbytery level. This leads to unbalanced results in policy decisions of the PCUSA. This is one reason why the will of the people in the pews is not appropriately expressed.

Laura Dobler
(I could not comment without clicking anonymous in the "choose an identity" section, but I wish to add my name.)

Alan said...

Does the percentage of ministers include those who are HR and at large? I only ask because it's my experience that those two groups, along with specialized clergy, make up a bulk of Presbytery commissioners.

We had a conservative church here work to get their elders on committees at Presbytery and were accused of trying to 'stack the deck' in favor of Evangelicals. This after a plea to nominate people for the committees

James Kim said...

Alan, the percentage of the ministers include the HR and those at large.

Laura, you and Alan are both correct in that the large percentage of commissioners to presbytery, synod, GA do not reflect the average member. By the very nature of when these meetings are (often time during the middle of the work week) only clergy and retirees are able to make most of the meetings.

James <><