"Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 4:11-13
Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Let's get back to the main topic about the membership decline in mainline Protestant churches in the United States.
K THX BYE :D
I grew up attending the UCC, and was confirmed in it at age 14. This was in the 70s, and we saw our congregation go through several changes for different reasons. First, one pastor was fired for allowing the senior youth group to smoke dope during a retreat. A lot of people left the church because of his antics. Some came back under the interim minister.
We lost most military families, including a beloved Sunday School teacher (the Colonel), due to the UCC's support of various peace groups in the 70s and 80s (like the Nuclear Freeze petition). The minister who was installed when I was in high school is still the pastor, and he has actually built a strong, fairly large congregation, that is extremely liberal (especially by Grand Rapids standards). They accept gays, and also have transitional housing on the grounds for the mentally ill, and assist in interdenominational outreaches to the homeless and poor. My mom is still a member, but rarely attends, as she now has a boyfriend to center her life around.
We did have one guy who was an evangelical, who joined our church because God told him to bear witness to us about the judgement of God on our ways. We accepted him and gave him a Sunday School teacher's job, because he knew the Bible really well.
At the time our church lost a lot of members, so did traditional conservative churches like the Baptists and the Christian Reformed (the dutch church). They lost members to charismatic and pentecostal churches like the Assemblies of God, because of the more dynamic worship and music.
Churches go through phases, and lose members and gain members sometimes due to the individual behind the pulpit. My current Unity church had a very prominent new age teacher as the pastor when I joined, and attendence levels around 2000 per service. When she left, her supporters also left and there was a division in the church (those who stayed, including me, were very disillusioned about that person). Most of those who left were not the ones who were the church's foundation, however. We have had a new head pastor for the last 3-4 years, and it's taken time, but we are rebuilding.
None of these situations had anything to do with either church's support of gays.
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