When asked, “Whatever happened to the mainline Protestant churches?" as I often am, I respond: Mainline decline is an old, tired story, but mainliners’ mission is urgent. How are mainline churches recovering? By going local in order to turn global.
Let me explain. Philosopher Stephen Toulmin, who has written on the paradoxes of modernity, gives us a clue: today, he says, people who are poised to be cosmopolitan tend to trust and share the local more than before. Mainliners, who may have been put off by what they often perceive as remote mission causes—church budget items that are bureaucratic or generic—are relearning outreach by beginning where they are: at home.