Why churches have the growth patterns 'of a downward flight path of a rock'

Why churches have the growth patterns 'of a downward flight path of a rock'

Why churches have the growth patterns 'of a downward flight path of a rock'

Protestant denominations in the U.S. have been losing members for decades, and a Christian commentator offers some possible reasons for why that decline is picking up steam.

Among a sampling of 10 Protestant denominations in the U.S., only two -- the Assemblies of God and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) -- have grown over the last 30 years, according to data compiled by pastor and statistician Ryan Burge.

The PCA has doubled its membership, and the Assemblies of God has added about 50% to its rolls. The other eight, including the American Baptists Church, the Episcopal Church, and the United Methodist Church, have lost anywhere between 30%-70% of their members since 1990.

Dr. Richard Land, president emeritus of Southern Evangelical Seminary, says liberalism is the common denominator.

Land, Dr. Richard Land

"The mainline denominations have been declining since the 1960s, and the reason is that increasingly, they've taken the 10 Commandments as the 10 Suggestions," he summarizes.

And Dr. Land does not think the tailspin will ever be reversed.

"They have the growth patterns of a downward flight path of a rock, and the future does not look bright at all," he laments.

Meanwhile, the Southern Baptist Church has remained conservative and still honors the Bible. Still, it has been losing members since about 2005.

"Part of it is the decline of religiosity in America," the theology professor submits. "A generation ago, it was good for business if you were in the insurance business and you were a member of a Southern Baptist Church or you were a member of a Presbyterian Church. It's irrelevant today."

Dr. Land concludes that the denominations that are growing have a common denominator, too. They have not compromised on truth, and they still teach that the following Christ demands surrender.

"They believe that their faith makes a difference," he says. "They believe that there is a God who is involved and a God who has standards."