Lessons from the demise of the mainliners

Mar 19, 2018 by

By George Yancey, Patheos.

[…] it does appear that the strategy of going along with the culture does not appear to be useful. While generalizations should be made carefully, it is fair to argue that mainline Protestants have been more willing to accommodate modern cultural changes than conservative Protestants. Many of them have marched to the forefront of those cultural changes. Their reward for this support is empty pews.

It is always dangerous for a social scientist to make predictions. We are not fortune tellers and have no special powers to see into the future. But we can see the current dynamics occurring within given social institutions. And if things do not change, then my prediction is that within the next 10 to 15 years we will see the fall, or at least major reorganizing, of several mainline denominations. They simply cannot keep hemorrhaging members like this and survive. Perhaps there will be changes that stop this process, but I am hard pressed to think of what those changes may be. They cannot just change on a dime and develop a traditional mindset. Social organizations are not built for such rapid changes. But their acceptance of a more secularized priority system simply has not worked. The die seems to be cast for them and I say this without the slightest bit of joy as a conservative Protestant.

There is a lesson for us evangelicals in the demise of the mainline Protestant denominations. It will be tough in the coming years to deal with a post-Christian society. We may not be persecuted, but we will face discrimination and stigmatization. There may be temptations to conform to the cultural norms of the larger society in order to avoid this unpleasant reality. My recommendation is to fight that temptation. You may gain some relief from the cultural pressure in the short term, but in the long term I fear that such compromises will plant the seeds of destruction in our organizations.

Read here

Related Posts


Share This