Will Mainline Protestantism Fade Away?

A friend of mine wrote recently, “With the historic mainline denominations in the US graying rapidly, with little influx of younger members, it’s likely they’ll all die out within a generation.”

Will mainline Protestantism die out within a generation?  I attend a Presbyterian Church (USA), and, I will admit, most of the people there are older than me!  But, at the same time, I do read comments by young people who are discontent with evangelicalism and attend mainline Protestant churches.  Conservative evangelicalism has its share of baggage—personality cults, guilt-trips, a union of Christianity with Republican politics—and so there are young people who want to be Christians, yet have no desire to hitch themselves to conservative evangelicalism.

Personally, although the church that I attend is probably on the conservative end of PC(USA), I like how it does not try to force me to do things that I do not want to do.  Moreover, I like how a person can be gone from church for a long time, and, when he comes back, he’s not hounded with some guilt-trip about being absent from church, nor is he smothered with phony and obligatory “I miss you”s.  Rather, people shake his hand and tell him they’re glad to see him.  It’s like he’s part of the family, whether he’s there, or not.  I find that the church that I attend is a comfortable place.

Of course, some conservative would say that’s a bad thing.  They’d say that I should feel low or convicted at church.  They’d say that this is the only way that I can grow.  I don’t buy that.

I have a conservative Christian friend, who criticized those who complain about conservative Christian churches.  He asks why they don’t attend a Unitarian-Universalist church, or some church that shares their beliefs.  He remarked that he wouldn’t go to a Buddhist temple and start complaining about how it does things.  Rather, he’d go to a religious house that shares his belief.  On some level, I dislike his comment because he acts as if conservative Christians have the copyright to Christianity—when Christianity is diverse, plus conservative Christians themselves pick-and-choose from Scripture, just like most Christians.  But there is a degree of wisdom to what he’s saying.  If I have a problem with conservative Christianity, why stick around and complain about it?  I should just let conservative Christians be who they are, while I am who I am.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Church, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.