Protestant religion in North America is alive and flourishing, but those signs of life are not evidenced in many traditional churches. According to a 2011 survey by the National Council of Churches Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, membership in mainline denominations – such as Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian – remains on a recent downward trend. As more pews become empty, church bodies are asking what can be done to fill them.
The answer appears to be found in the message and approach of nondenominational churches not aligned with any specific organizational doctrine. Unlike traditional churches, nondenominational churches are experiencing growth throughout North America, creating congregations with 2,000 or more members per worship service. These are now being referred to as “mega-churches.” This spark in membership stems from the message of returning to a personal relationship with God and embracing that relationship through an open and relaxed worship service, often led by live music.
These churches also emphasize a relationship with Jesus Christ and His love that can free and empower Christians in all aspects of their lives. Because the message is more personal and relevant to the fundamental questions their congregants face and the approach is more inviting, the flame of growth sparked by nondenominational churches is burning increasingly brighter and stronger.