A Report from General Assembly, Part 5
I hope you are enjoying these reports. My desire was to give some snapshots in more detail of our denomination so that you can understand the OPC better. Here is a brief outline of what I want to cover over the next several weeks. Today we will look at the report of the Statistician. To many, facts and figures may appear boring, but there is a lot to learn from numbers.
In weeks to come as I finish these reports over the summer we will cover Home Missions and Church Extension next week, followed by; Foreign Missions, Diaconal Ministries (Short Term Missions & Disaster Response), The New Committee on the Care of Ministers, and finally some brief comments on Appeals.
At the end of 2016 we had 278 local churches. Four mission works were organized last year as new and separate churches and one congregation was received into the OPC. Two churches were dissolved and three churches withdrew from the OPC. In essence there was no net change.
Total membership at the end of 2016 was 30,918 persons consisting of 540 ministers, 22,745 communicant members, and 7,633 baptized children (non-communicants). This is a decrease of 217 persons from 2015. Membership statistics were greatly affected by the withdrawal of the three congregations mentioned above.
Total giving grew by 1.33 percent to $57,611,543. The average giving per communicant member was $2,533. General offerings to local churches grew by 1.37 percent.
With 540 ministers there was a net increase of five in the number of ministers on the rolls of the presbyteries. Twelve men were ordained as ministers, and seven ministers were received into the OPC from other churches. Fourteen ministers were removed from the rolls of presbyteries: seven by dismissal to other churches and seven by reason of death.
So the big question, why all the numbers? Of what significance is this to our body of Christ? Why do we care how many members there are in the OPC? I have recently started adding to our prayer page the number of ministers, churches and mission works for each Presbytery we pray for each week. I think it is important for us to look beyond the local body in our prayers and to be more specific in how we pray for these various presbyteries. It is also important to remember that the church is a lot larger than any one congregation. From my report on ecumenicity and inter-church relations I hope you also understand better that the church is much larger than any one denomination. It is even larger than our church relationships.
It should be our desire and prayer that churches across our land and across the world that proclaim the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be filled. I pray that our church and other Bible believing churches in our community grow in grace and number. We long to see people coming to Christ and worshipping in local churches. Some churches we have closer relationships to than others. The OPC is not a large denomination. But it is important to realize that as there are 278 OPC churches, we praise God for how He has built this denomination over 81 years and continued to add to his kingdom.