Reports of the deaths of mainline denominations
have been greatly exaggerated, to corrupt a phrase. Nor are these
church bodies likely to disappear anytime soon, if the authors of this
month’s featured story in The Lutheran are heeded.
That’s not to downplay or dismiss the problems facing the once unquestioned top tier of America’s religious establishment. Creeping secularism, galloping congregationalism, rampant individualism and latent fundamentalism all pull and tear and challenge churches like the ELCA and its ecumenical partners.
Many remain convinced the end, if not near, is around the corner because it appears the future rests with growing fundamentalist, Pentecostal and American evangelical groups. But, as Kenneth Inskeep and Robert Bacher point out in their articles ("Mainline decline," and "What's the future?"), the future is there for the grabbing by mainline bodies.
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