But, not all denominations and churches are losing ground. While there is concern about loss of members and drooping attendance at so-called mainline denominations in the US, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists have kept up pretty well with growth in the population.
The table above, data from Demographia, shows that, while 54% of the population claimed church membership in 1960, only 27% of the 110 million person increase over the next 40+ years joined up. This is old data, but I think the trends have generally continued during the last six or eight years. Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists have shown the biggest absolute increases. The shrinking of some groups, at the expense of others, wouldn’t really matter except that organized churches get caught up in worldly things such as expensive and lightly used structures, headquarters operations, staffs, and utility bills. Such obligations spark a bit of competitiveness in efforts to keep enough funds coming in to avoid the pain of shrinkage and sometimes distract attention from the essential focus of Christianity: Jesus Christ.
Whether our personal theologies are best expressed by the singing of Blessed Assurance or of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence and whether we prefer the democracy of congregationalism or the structure and authority of Catholicism, there are two things we can be sure of:
- Any successful search for eternal things will lead eventually to “one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father.”
- His Great Commission and two Great Commandments apply equally to all of us.