As someone who both cares about the mission of the Church and leads a research organization, I watch the trends in the Church and the culture. Occasionally, someone asks me to share some thoughts on the big picture, in the case of the North American context, questions related to “streams” of Protestantism.
Based on research, statistics, extrapolation, and (I hope) some insight, I notice three important trends continuing in the next 10 years.
Trend #1: The Hemorrhaging of Mainline Protestantism
This trend is hardly news—mainliners will tell you of this hemorrhaging and of their efforts to reverse it.
Mainline Protestantism is perhaps the best known portion of Protestantism, often represented by what are called the “seven sisters” of the mainline churches. Mainline churches are more than these, but these seven are the best known, perhaps:
- United Methodist Church
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
- Episcopal Church
- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
- American Baptist Churches
- United Church of Christ (UCC)
- The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
They tend to fall on the progressive side of the theological continuum, but there is diversity of theology as well (Methodists, as a whole, are probably most conservative, for example).
Mainline Protestantism is in trouble and in substantive decline. Some…Continue Reading