The American Religious Identification Survey published its results this week, and if you go to the USA Today graphic and punch in Catholics, Other Christians and Non-Religious, you will get the picture.
(Touchstone Magazine has a good summary piece as well, with excellent summary analysis. Be sure and read it.)
Hispanics are the only thing floating in a sinking American Catholicism. Catholicism in the northeast is in rapid decline. Stunning, really.
Protestants are in a free fall. Evangelicals are moving to non-denominational megachurches and away from mainlines and traditional evangelicalism. Non-denominational, highly Charismatic flavored evangelicalism is on the way to domination, and you heard it here first, megachurch evangelicalism is a house of cards. If those in the pews of the megachurches think think grandchildren will be there as adults, I have a bridge I’d like to sell cheap.
While out and out atheists are still a sliver of the population, those calling themselves non-religious are growing rapidly. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet in that category. America remains a nation that says it is over 70% Christian, but Christianity as a percentage of the population is shrinking in every category except for Hispanics.
Baptists are coasting into decline, with growth far behind the total population. Generational horizons- the end of churches because no younger generation exists- are everywhere in the mainlines.
This is the stage for the coming evangelical collapse. It is the dawning of an America where Christianity is generic or declining, for the most part. It is the stage where serious Churches and theologically/culturally conservative churches have a first century style mission field. This is the stage where many of us will watch our children and grandchildren identify a generic Christianity when they are young, but never join a church and eventually drop into the ranks of the non-religious.
This is the stage for a cultural disengagement from the Christian memory of America. It is the dawning of a new American religious landscape. Give our culture 25 years. How much faster will this happen? How much deeper will it go?
If you are an evangelical and you aren’t enthusiastically supporting innovative, cross cultural, missional church planting, you might want to go pre-plan the funeral. The future isn’t the megachurch. The future is ACTS 29.
Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans: You’re at the crossroads. I’d get serious.
Liberal mainlines: Wake up and find the lifeboats.