Signs that Evangelicalism’s “Boom” May be Over

6 Dec

David Roozen, writing in the latest Christian Century, summarizes and interprets the latest indicators of American religion. They don’t look as encouraging as they have been for evangelicalism …

Why are evangelical Protestant denominations declining? While we await the definitive study, a few culprits seem likely. Studies suggest that the decreasing religious participation of each new generation of young adults is affecting virtually all religious groups.

The broad social and cultural changes some­times referred to as “post­modernity” make religion in general and organized religion in particular a less credible option across the board. Traditional ways of doing church don’t work for increasing numbers of people, and institutionalizing new approaches is more difficult than most like to admit.

We also know that both the challenges of change and the corrosive edges of increasing diversity within memberships have raised denominational and congregational conflict to epidemic levels. Conflict impedes growth—for oldline churches but also for evangelical.

It is likely that the vitality of independent churches—including megachurches—is drawing people, and sometimes entire congregations and judicatories, out of denominational systems.

Is there growth? Yes:

Setting aside questions about historically black churches, it appears that racial, ethnic and immigrant communities are, along with Pentecostal/holiness and independent churches, the pockets of vitality within the overall decline.

To read the entire Roozen piece, check here.

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