A new study from George Barna on Mainline churches….
Since the 1950s, however, mainline churches have fallen on hard times, declining from more than 80,000 churches to about 72,000 today. The growth among evangelical and Pentecostal churches since the 1950s, combined with the shrinking of the mainline sector, has diminished mainline churches to just one-fifth of all Protestant congregations today. In the past fifty years, mainline church membership dropped by more than one-quarter to roughly 20 million people. Adult church attendance indicates that only 15% of all American adults associate with a mainline church these days.
A new report issued by The Barna Group focuses upon changes in the mainline churches during the past decade. The report examines shifts in both the adults who attend those churches and the pastors who lead them….
George Barna, the researcher who analyzed the data for the report, commented that mainline Protestant churches seem to have weathered the past decade better than many people have assumed, but that the future is raising serious challenges to continued stability. He identified the quality of leadership provided – especially regarding vision, creativity, strategic thinking, and the courage to take risks – as being the most critical element in determining the future health and growth of mainline congregations. He also indicated that the approach that many mainline churches take toward some current social issues – e.g., environmental challenges, poverty, cross-denominational cooperation, developing respectful dialogue, embracing new models for faith expression, and global understanding – position those churches well for attracting younger Americans.