2000-2010 can best be labeled as a decade of decline for American Christianity. David Roozen’s recent piece in the Christian Century provides an important look at just how rapid the decline was for conservative/evangelical Protestants, mainline/oldline Protestants, and Roman Catholics. As a percentage, the declines were
- oldline/mainline: 13%
- Catholic: 5%
- conservative/evangelical: 1%
After decades of progressive Christianity, it should not be surprising to see the mainline/oldline is declining more rapidly than other Christian groups. It is, however, significant to observe that both conservative and progressive Christianity is declining. It important to note that Roman Catholicism is also declining.
The only group that grew during the last decade was Pentecostal & Holiness. This is also the youngest category among those listed. Over the decade, the Pentecostal & Holiness traditions grew at a rate of nearly 7.5%.
The future of American Christianity will differ from the past. If things proceed throughout the current decade (2010-2020) as they are now, I expect the rates of decline among the declining groups will be far higher than was the case last decade.
- What do you think is most likely (continued steady decline, slower decline, more rapid decline, stagnation, slow growth, or rapid growth) for each group shown above during the current decade? Explain.
- How did your local congregation fare in terms of membership between 2000 and 2010? How does that compare to the overall national decline or growth rate for your tradition?