Americans Feel More Positive About Most Religions

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, between June 2014 and January 2017, American views shifted to become more positive about about most of the world's great religions.  More specifically, survey respondents were asked to to rate a variety of groups on a “feeling thermometer” that ranged from 0 to 100 (with higher numbers reflecting warmer or more positive feelings). Respondents warmed to several religions during this two and a half year period, including Atheists Read More …

Dwindling Membership: The United Church of Christ from 1965-2015

While I consider myself a post-denominational follower of the Way of Jesus, I have spent the most of the last six years involved in the life of congregations affiliated with the United Church of Christ.  This Mainline Protestant denomination has experienced a significant decline in membership over the last 50 years from over 2 million members in 1965 to under 1 million members in 2015. The graph at right shows the denomination's total membership by year in blue and the percent change or Read More …

Farewell to White Protestant America

Last week I noted how old Mainline Protestantism has become here in America.  Back in 2011 I reflected on a group of pastors from one Mainline denomination that labeled their own tradition "deathly ill."  Today, I recognize that death has come not only for that denomination or Mainline Protestantism but also for the Protestantism I have known and lived that is broader yet: White Christian America. Obituary  Robert P. Jones', CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, new book "The End of Read More …

My 2016 Search for a Church

How does someone with more than fifteen years of parish ministry experience search for a church when presented with the opportunity to connect with a community of faith as an active participant rather than serving as a pastor or staff member? In my case the answer is a work in progress. Last September I relocated to North Texas after living in Southwest Florida for eight years.  Immediately, my wife and I started our search for a church. Despite my travel for work, we have managed to Read More …

Church Shopping: Not Happening Today

Almost a month ago I preached my last sermon as a Transitional Pastor before relocating across the country to start a new job in healthcare.  This change led my wife and I to begin our search for a church near our new home. The first Sunday we did not attend church as I was busy moving.  The next Sunday my wife and I visited a nearby Lutheran congregation (ELCA). The third Sunday we visited a local Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregation.  Today we will not be in church since I am traveling for Read More …

Racism: A Mainline Reality

Meet the Researcher Bradley (Brad) Wright is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut where he studies American Christianity and spirituality.   He is the author of two books: Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites… and Other Lies You’ve Been Told (2010 - my review), and Upside: Surprising Good News about the State of Our World (2011 - my review).   Research Overview Wright and another researcher researched how Christian churches in the United States Read More …

Am I a Christian?

Christianity is the world's largest religion. Nearly 1 in 3 people (31.5%) are Christian. In 2011 following extensive research, Pew released "Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population." They found: About half of all Christians worldwide are Catholic (50%), while more than a third are Protestant (37%). Orthodox communions comprise 12% of the world’s Christians. Other Christian groups, which make up the remaining 1%, include the Church of Jesus Read More …

The Day the Mainline Disappeared

According to a new Pew Research Survey: People think more positively about their own religious groups, or about groups that their friends belong to, and On a scale of warmest/most positive feelings to coolest/least positive feelings, Americans have warm feelings toward Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians, neutral feelings about Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons, and cooler feelings toward Muslims and atheists. While this data is interesting, it is also troubling.  As a lifelong Read More …

A New Mainline

Mainline Protestantism has transitioned from American's dominant form of Christianity to a mere 18% of the adult population.  Many forecast continued decline. Recognizing the issue with the name, Cathy Lynn Grossman is inviting you to take a poll to propose a new name for the mainline, which includes a "dozen church groups  . . . including United Methodists, Episcopalians, Evangelical Lutherans, Presbyterians (USA) and American Baptists)."  The options she offers are Old Line Liberal Read More …

Imagine an Institution

A short illustration, posted on April 20 by Jerry Bowyer on the forbes.com blog, was printed in the May 31, 2011 edition of the Christian Century: Imagine an institution that requires its leaders to attend not only college, but graduate school.  Imagine that the graduate school in question is constitutionally forbidden from receiving any form of government aid, that it typically requires three years of full-time schooling for the diploma, that the nature of the schooling bears almost no Read More …