Mainline protestant denominations took the brunt of the decline while evangelical churches actually increased in number, as much a 5 million. Yet the future does not look promising for either because there is a failure to reproduce generationally both in mainline and evangelical churches. The millennial generation, especially many of the young millennials, are not continuing the faith of their parents. More than 85% of American adults were raised Christian, but nearly a quarter of those who were raised Christian no longer identify with Christianity.
In the evangelical church, there has always been a high value of making new disciples, to evangelize the lost, hence the term evangelical church. In my coaching of pastors, much of our energy is spent on developing strategies to reach those who do not believe. Perhaps we should also examine how we are raising up our children to love God and pursue truth. Somewhere along the line we are losing that battle and if those closest to us fail to carry on with our faith, then how can we expect to convince those outside our family to believe in Christ? How do we leave a legacy of faith without pushing it upon our children or turning them away from the church? How do we best disciple them? They are after all, the future of the church.
I've written about the issue in a recent blog; The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Child and also the root of the problem; Survey Indicates Religious Faith Not A High Value For Many Christians.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and answers.