Demographics Study Shows How to Get It Wrong
Dr. Michael L. Ford
31 October 2005
An article on how the decline of what the analyzers called “mainline churches” displayed how a group of otherwise intelligent people could look at some information and get it all wrong. They did not believe that things they called “progressive theological views” over the last 100 years, has contributed to the decline of Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Congregationalist churches. Along with such things as replacement theology, which is contrary to Scripture, its allied social gospel, pacifism, women’s ordination, and sodomite rights clearly tore the heart out of these denominations, which in 1900 accounted for 60% of what is lumped into the general category of Protestants.
Two world wars and a cold war decimated amillennial theology and opened the doors for what the report called “Bible-based” churches, which is really a way of saying churches that believe in literal interpretation of Scripture. Three sociologists: Michael Hout of the University of California-Berkeley, Andrew Greeley of the University of Arizona, and Melissa Wilde of Indiana University, claimed falling birth rates accounted for 70 percent of what Baptists sometimes refer to as “high church” decline. The study also concluded “the declining propensity of conservatives to convert to the mainline accounts for the 30 percent of mainline decline that fertility rates cannot account for.” In other words, they don’t evangelize and they can’t proselyte from churches that emphasize taking Scripture literally. Apparently everything else meant by the word demographics was ignored.
Any denomination that depends on its members’ fertility to endure or even increase is doomed to demise. The Great Commission demands sharing the Gospel message, not with “the unchurched,” but with the unsaved. Many who leave the formal churches do not come to people like the Baptists as they once did because of either discouragement or the decline of conservatives to “keep the main thing, the main thing.” This is why these groups numbers are not even keeping pace with population growth. Message means more than demographics. I know of churches sitting in the middle of nowhere suddenly overflowing at meeting time. People come where the soul’s need is met.
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Buchanan, Georgia 30113