Global Christianity Reconfiguration of Protestantism in the U.S.
Global Christianity

Mainline Protestant decline; evangelical, non-denominational, and Pentecostal growth.

Overflow crowd at 1996 Billy Graham Crusade, Minneapolis

Some "mainline" Protestant denominations--Methodist, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and others--declined in membership for most of the twentieth-century. Lutherans and other mainline groups barely sustained membership, in a time of national population growth. At the same time, however, the twentieth century was a time of steady growth for Southern Baptists and independent evangelical churches. The most dramatic church growth has been among the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal groups. Spectacular growth occurred in Mormonism, which at the close of the twentieth century had 5.1 million members in 1998 in the U.S.--more than the combined total of the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Mainline decline was one part of a larger picture: overall church membership in the U.S. expanded from about 25 percent of Americans in 1870 to about 61 percent in 1990.

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Photo courtesy of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.