April 02, 2010


Why Evangelicalism Is Failing A New Generation by Carol Howard Merritt

We are in the midst of a shift in American Christianity, as Evangelicalism is failing to reach a new generation. For the last couple of decades, Christians looked to the Evangelical movement to show us how to gain new members and keep our churches relevant. They showed us how to attract young members. Even stodgy denominational congregations could not hide their curiosity when megachurches took root in our nation's religious landscape. They watched as families drove to the sprawling parking lots of the giant suburban church -- the one with the rock band, theater seating, and that charismatic guy at the center of it all. Evangelical talking heads began to pop up on news programs, claiming that they represented vast swaths of the American population. But now those megachurch crowds are graying and there is something about Evangelicalism that is not transferring to a new generation. The shift is well documented: everyone from Christine Wicker, to Robert Wuthnow to the Barna Group is pointing out the change. Many who grew up in those packed seats, clapping along with the praise band, are abandoning Evangelical congregations. Why is that? The robust churches had it all -- large staffs, great programs, and engaging preaching. Why would a new generation, including me, leave that behind?