The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination. It’s membership has been falling by ten percent a year for several years. While its executives put up a good front about membership coming back, it seems more obvious as time goes by the decline will not be reversed in the near future, if ever.
Denominations depend on babies for a lot of their members. People tend to stay in the denomination of their parents. The birth rate among Southern Baptists has been falling.
Increasingly, however, people of faith are churning, moving between denominations based on what is convenient or appealing. For denominations to thrive in this kind of market they need large marketing budgets. When numbers fall, there is less money for marketing. That is one of Southern Baptist’s problems today.
It needs money to underwrite new churches in city suburbs. Churches with older members might need subsidies as well. I would guess sending missionaries to foreign countries does not end up very often as a profitable enterprise.
Then there is always the question of how deep is the obligation to convert people from the indigenous religion to Christianity. It doesn’t seem like a particularly high moral principle to take children away from the religion of their parent or grandparents, regardless of what country or religion we are talking about.
I do not see much on Christian sites mapping out Christianity with smaller budgets. I think the money part of declining membership will be the most significant result.
[An article discussing employee layoffs by Southern Baptists can be linked in comments.]