Protestant Churches in Brazil Experience Mixed Growth, Decline; Huge Increase for Pentecostals

A number of mainline traditional protestant churches in Brazil are declining in congregation numbers, according to a new research report out. However, at the same time the newly released analysis indicates that pentecostal churches are experiencing much of the huge growth explosion being reported among the evangelical community in the Latin American nation.

According to the analysis many denominations from the so-called "traditional churches" group experienced a decline over the 10 year period from 2000 through 2010. The Congregational Church showed a decline in membership of 26.37 percent; the Lutheran Church 6.10 percent; Presbyterian Church 5.9 percent and the Methodist Church 0.01 percent.

However, there was not a blanket decline among the "traditional church" group, and the Baptist Church revealed significant growth of 17.74 percent. The Adventist Church in Brazil, which was also included in the "traditional church" category, also experienced a 29.03 percent surge in membership over the 10 year period.

Overall the "traditional church" group, when considered as a whole" experienced a growth of 10.76 percent.

But that growth seems small when contrasted with the growth experienced by "pentecostal churches" group. This group including the Assemblies of God, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Maranatha Churches, Foursquare Church Gospel, among others, experienced a massive growth of 44.01 percent.

Within the "pentecostal church" grouping the Assemblies of God felt the largest growth; increasing in membership by 46.8 percent. The Foursquare Church Gospel and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God each increased by 37.12 percent and 28.37 percent respectively.

Evangelical leaders in the country have expressed their concerns that some neo-pentecostal churches, which experienced large growth, are known for holding a liberal viewpoint and some controversial theological doctrines, when compared to traditional conservative churches in Brazil.

BEPEC director, Danilo Fernandes, has said he believes there is a possibility that the decline among some traditional churches will be reversed in the future, indicating that the recent decrease is just a temporary issue.

Fernandes has claimed that there is a new generation of people interested in developing their theological knowledge in the traditional churches, and has pointed to the numbers turning out at various Christian events in the country as evidence of this.

He also has claimed that numerous recent scandals involving mainline Pentecostal denominations could lead to a downward trend being witnessed in the future for pentecostal churches.

The report was compiled by the Bureau of Christian Research and Statistics (BEPEC), which analyzed data from the most recent census results in Brazil recently published by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), which cover the period from 2000 to 2010.

According to the 2010 census results from IBGE, the evangelical population of Brazil increased by 16 million people over the period from 2000 to 2010, to 42.3 million.

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