Modern Trends in the Softened Protestant Church

Throughout the first few weeks of class, we have learned that in the modern American world, the way people practice religion has shifted, and unofficial religion has grown to be much more significant.  In American Religion, Chaves argues that official religion has “softened”.  This is caused by many factors, and is associated with prominent contemporary trends.

Particularly within the Protestant church, these contemporary trends have been clear and trackable. There are 300,000 congregations across the country, which is and has been the most significant form of practicing religion. Within these congregations, the median size has been the same within the last 20 years, however, recently, more and more people have began to inhabit much larger sized congregations. In addition, within the span of just a few years, Protestant congregations independent of a particular denomination have increased by five percent. Technology has become a vastly significant aspect of most Protestant congregations, from broadcasting services to communicating with attendees. Most services have become significantly more informal, and people in the pews have grown older, with higher income and more education.

These trends have grown and intensified as official religion involvement has decreased. These six trends directly alter the way American religion looks, and are likely a consequence of both politics and the opening of the modern mind. As certain Christian leaders have been involved in scandals, churches have taken stands on controversial political issues, and women’s rights have increased in society, there have been some clashes in the values of more traditional congregations and some American people. Thus, modern trends emerge and official involvement has softened.