Michael Spencer at The Christian Science Monitor lays out the reasons for The Coming Evangelical Collapse. Brief and worth a look. My thanks to Duane J. Oldsen for drawing this to my attention.
As a former Pentecostal turned Roman Catholic, this issue resonates with me from both sides. Spencer is probably right in forecasting difficult times ahead for evangelicalism, but the reasons he gives for this seem a little scrambled. It is not the attachment to conservative social goals which threaten the movement, for conservatism is quite healthy and will only increase as the material situation worsens in the years to come. Far more fatal to evengelicalism is its weddedness to the Prosperity Gospel, which will seem increasingly shallow (not to mention unattainable for most) in the face of widespread social unrest.
Spencer is certainly right, though, in condemning the lack of doctrinal rigor and basic Christian formation among the generic Protestant denominations. He sees this as a boon for orthodoxy, and again he is right. There is no doubt in my mind that hordes of the newly downtrodden, looking for an authentic Christian experience, will soon make the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Episcopalian churches rather popular places to be; but once more, his reasoning seems a little screwy. He first bemoans that people are abandoning evangelicalism because it's too socially conservative, and then he announces that this will benefit the catholic churches....who are supposed to be less conservative?! I can only conclude that this man doesn't understand what orthodoxy really means, nor the social forces driving people to embrace it.
The "pragmatic, therapeutic" megachurches will be the first victims of the turning tide, not the exceptions to it. The newly faithful congregants at the orthodox churches--hardboiled and distinctly intolerant of BS--will demand that the priests look and act like priests, that the sacraments be respected, and that the Gospel be proclaimed without embarrassment. The future will belong to orthodoxy as the prevailing cultural attitude becomes more conservative, not less.
Spencer again reaches the correct conclusion in describing what will be left. Pentecostalism is perhaps the only serious alternative to the sacramental/liturgical system of apostolic Christianity, as it retains Trinitarian baptism and a pronounced emphasis on the Cross; however, its premillenial dispensationalism is a stumbling block to determined Scriptural scholarship.
Of course, I am biased in favor of a Roman Catholic future. But I think that, in the last analysis, this is more than just a bias: it is a prophetic hope.