“It's the nature of the gospel to upend settled views.”
Religious people have been their own worst enemies in recent weeks. First came a study from the journal Current Biology showing that children from religious families are less generous and more punitive than their peers, and that the more exposure to religion they received, the worse they behaved.
Perhaps normal people no longer assume that church is part of what it means to be normal. Or perhaps the idea of a normal center was flawed all along.
Joseph Bottum contends that the decline of mainline churches has created a moral vacuum that conservative Catholics and evangelicals have been unable to fill.
One practical lesson of the Pew report is the crucial need for mainliners to focus on passing the faith on to the next generation.
There’s little for us mainliners to celebrate in this new Pew study. We’re losing people, and fast. I appreciate Heidi Haverkamp’s realistic-yet-hopeful words here and Rob Rynders’ there. But, like them, I’m not interested in spinning an argument that the numbers are somehow lying. The numbers are clearer, however, than the reasons for them.
For decades, the notion of mainline decline has dominated interpretation of church life. But just how mighty were the churches before?
Years of experience don’t ease the journey toward a family waiting in an ICU. We pastors feel terribly inadequate, and at the same time incredibly grateful that the vocation allows us into the most intimate situations.
Right now, there are a lot of pastors who ought to be looking in the mirror and chanting, “It’s not all about me.”
Maybe what sociologists call mainline decline is God pulling us away from external things so we can rediscover our union with God in love.
"Ecumenical leaders of the 1960s took a series of risks," says historian David Hollinger, "asking their constituency to follow them in directions that many resisted."