Closing a church is like eating the last slice of bread—somehow if you eat the last slice, you’re responsible for consuming it all (never mind that someone else ate the last 27 slices). A church can be declining for 40 years, but if a pastor comes in and starts to talk about closing a congregation, then she closed the church. Many people don’t want to be that pastor.
I knew that mainline congregants tend to be older than the general population. The average member is about 58, whereas the average American is age 38. The latest survey from Hartford Seminary fills in the picture with this piece of data: in more than half (52.7 percent) of mainline Protestant congregations, a third or more of the members are 65 years old or older.