Thursday, July 07, 2005


So the UCC decided to endorse same-sex marriages last week. Is anyone surprised anymore? Sadly, I think not. Jeff Miller has a not-too-far-from-the-truth satire of their decision process on his website.
Some of the new names proposed and voted on were "United Church of Whatever Seems Good At This Moment of Time", "United Church of Secularists", "Not So United Church of Rapidly Shrinking Congregations" , with "United Church of Progressive Pagans" winning out. The UCPP has also dropped its motto "That they may be one" in favor of "That there be one individual and personal faith per member."

It will, however, be interesting to see what this does to the UCC's membership, as studies have shown that the further from the Gospels a church gets, the emptier it's pews are.
By following the siren song of cultural accommodation in the hopes of appeasing disgruntled members and attracting new ones, liberal Protestant church leaders have seen their pews emptied, their Christian witness compromised and their cultural influence diminished. Their members, meanwhile, have fled to churches that defend traditional faith and mores.

A study conducted a few years ago by the Glenmary Research Center verified this trend. Researchers found that between 1990 and 2000, the congregations that grew fastest were socially conservative churches that demanded high commitment from their members — a category that includes the Catholic Church, as well as some evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Socially liberal churches, meanwhile, were hemorrhaging members at the fastest rate. As the center's director, sociologist Ken Sanchagrin, explained to The New York Times, "the more liberal the denomination, by most people's definition, the more [members] they were losing." That phenomenon is not new. Sociologist Rodney Stark unearthed a similar dynamic when studying early Church history for his book, The Rise of Christianity. Stark's review of the evidence led him to conclude that many of the characteristics that made Christianity flourish in the pagan culture of the Roman empire are the same ones that make socially conservative churches flourish in our neo-pagan culture today. In contrast to their pagan contemporaries, the early Christians preached a radical message about God's love, defended the dignity of the human person, and embraced countercultural values. Their distinctive behavior and beliefs attracted the interest of outsiders, and their unflinching fidelity to the teachings of Jesus made the early Church grow by leaps and bounds.


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