As the United Church of Canada struggles to fill many of its pews, the denomination will delve into contentious political issues at its 41st General Council in Ottawa this week.
However, the United Church of Canada also has to deal with a dramatic decline in membership: membership has dipped from more than a million in the mid-1960s to less than 500,000 now.
Retired United Church minister David Ewart estimates that by 2025 membership will drop to around 250,000.
“If the trend of the last 10 years does not change, then yes, indeed that would be the membership in 2025,” Ewart said.
Even more strikingly, Ewart estimates that if current trends hold, by 2025 the United Church will be attracting zero new followers.
Ewart attributes that to liberal theology.
“Because we’re so liberal … we have a hard time selling ourselves,” he said.
Ewart acknowledges the only firm doctrine of his church is that “there is no such thing as a final statement of doctrine.”
So, while the United Church calls people toward environmental activism, it doesn’t call for personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
“It’s dropped off our agenda, I would say, and consequently membership declines,” he admits.
Ewart is right, that it is the UCC’s liberal theology that is killing it.
Once you teach people that it doesn’t matter what you believe about Christ and salvation, as long as you hold to liberal / progressive pieties on social issues, not only will you lose those who are religiously orthodox and more politically conservative / traditionalist (like myself, two decades ago), but you can’t even hold the liberals. After all, why not just stay home and sleep in Sunday morning? There’s no reason to attend.
I look forward to the UCC’s impending death as a denomination, since liberal mainline Protestant denominations are worse than useless; they’re downright evil in their theology and politics. They only have themselves to blame for their decline and fall. Good riddance, when it finally happens.
And as I’ve said, there’s an opportunity for conservative traditionalist denominations, in that, if they choose to take advantage of it.