Choosing a Church – New Research

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released a report titled "Choosing a New Church or House of Worship: Americans Look for Good Sermons, Warm Welcome." (I encourage you to read the full report or the associated detailed article about the findings.) It's Personal This new report is incredibly valuable to me for both professional and personal reasons.  Professionally, I have served eight Mainline Protestant congregations in a variety of roles.  Personally, my wife and I have been searching Read More …

Seminary Size – Evangelicals are #1

How large is large when it comes to a seminary student body in America? The primary accrediting body, Association of Theological Schools (ATS), accredited 246 institutions during the 2015-16 school year with an enrollment of just over 37,000 students (full-time equivalent) in the USA. Earlier this month Chelsen Vicari mined the ATS data to determine the largest seminaries in the USA.  Based on full-time enrollment numbers for the 2015-16 school year she found The top ten Read More …

Mainline Protestantism = Old

Until around the year 2000 I always thought of the group of churches to which I have belonged as Mainline or Mainline Protestant.  Over the last several years I have heard a variety of terms used that convey the considerable decline in membership and cultural capital. Data from the Pew Religious Landscape Study shows just how old the Mainline/Sidelined/Oldline Protestant traditions have become.   Mainline Denomination Median  Age Percent of Members Age Read More …

Mainline Members – Political Leanings

If you know much about American Christianity, you may expect Mainline Protestants to be more likely to have more liberal political leanings than the average American.  The Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study affords an unparalleled look at this topic by breaking down many of the larger religious denominations by what political party their members self-identify as leaning toward or with which they affiliate. Among all US adults the survey found that 37% are or lean Republican, Read More …

Top Religions by State

There are many ways to look at America's top religions. The Public Religion Research Institute's new American Values Atlas offers a helpful way to consider the religious makeup of the United States on both a national and state level. National Perspective As a whole the top three religions in our country are Catholic - 22% Religiously unaffiliated - 22% White Evangelical Protestants - 18%. Personal Experience I have spent my life in Texas and Florida.  The largest religion Read More …

Marginalization as Blessing

I cannot even begin to count the number of experts I have heard or read complain about the losses experienced by liberal/progressive (Mainline, Oldline, Sideline) Christianity over the last several decades.  I am thankful those voices are beginning to fade as new voices emerge suggesting what this new role means and how God can and is working in and through it. Amy Butler, senior minister of Riverside Church, recently stated that the continued trend toward marginalization "is one of the most Read More …

Millennials are #1 Overall & Mainliners #1 Growing Edge

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, sometime this year Millennials will overtake Boomers as the largest generation in America.  The Millennials are projected not only to remain the largest group for the next several decades, but also to widen the gap between their group and that of the next largest generational cohort  (Boomers ranking second through 2028 then being overtaken by Xers). So What? Shortly after the Pew Research Center released the report on their latest U.S. Religious Read More …

Fewer and Fewer Christians (& Even Fewer Mainline Protestants)

In 2007 the Pew Research Center conducted their initial U.S. Religious Landscape Study.  The 2014 edition, published earlier today, shows Christianity declined by 8% in America over the last seven years (78.4% to 70.6%).  Allowing for the margin of error, this means the number of Christian adults in the U.S. has shrunk by somewhere between 2.8 million and 7.8 million. Decline Impacts All Christian Traditions Mainline Protestants and Catholics top the list for experiencing the greatest Read More …

From Mainline to Sideline to Oldline

I grew up in a Mainline Protestant congregation.  The congregation I was raised in belonged to one of the seven sisters of Mainline American Protestantism: the Congregational Church (now a part of the United Church of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Convention, and the Disciples of Christ. While my childhood congregation has remained a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Read More …

Christian Belief in a Personal God

Tobin Grant recently wrote an insightful article calling attention to the fact that just because American Christians believe in God does not mean that they believe in is a personal God.  Using data from the 2007 Religious Landscape Survey Grant provides graphical representations of what percentage of American Christians in each of 43 religious traditions believe in God followed by another illustrating what percentage of these believe in a personal God. Focusing on belief in a personal God Read More …