New Kinds of Presbyterians in New Presbyterian Churches?

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) attracts new worshipers to both existing churches and new churches. Are worshipers in new churches pretty much like Presbyterian worshipers who attend other congregations? Or are they different?

We had the chance to survey about 7,500 worshipers who attend new Presbyterian churches, those founded in the past 20 years. These new church worshipers are distinct from other Presbyterians in several ways:

  • Worshipers in new PC(USA) churches reflect more racial-ethnic diversity than the typical Presbyterian worshipers. New churches are even more racially diverse than the fastest growing PC(USA) churches.

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  • Worshipers in new PC(USA) churches represent a greater range of birthplaces as well. While large majorities of Presbyterian worshipers were born in the United States, worshipers in new PC(USA) churches were far more likely to have been born in a non-English speaking country (13%).

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  • Many worshipers in new PC(USA) churches are second-generation immigrants—both parents were born in another country. In fact, one in five worshipers in new Presbyterian churches report that both parents were born outside the United States.

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Why start new Presbyterian churches? One reason is demonstrated in the findings above. New PC(USA) congregations attract worshipers who were not being reached by other long-standing Presbyterian churches.