This often strong sense of belonging and commitment to the local congregation is rarely extended to the denomination as a whole, which is likely to be viewed as an inefficient and redundant bureaucracy that makes serious financial demands of local congregations while giving little in return.
A fourth factor that has been identified as of significance by sociologists with a particular interest in Protestant denominations is the rise of “lay liberalism,” which erases the clear boundaries separating believers from unbelievers. Where evangelicalism emphasizes the distinctiveness of Christianity, this pragmatic, laid-back lay liberalism feels able to renegotiate Christian moral and theological principles in the light of prevailing social norms. This has led to an erosion of the boundary between “church” and “world”—but also between Protestant denominations. Without clear “faith boundaries,” identification with any particular form of Protestantism—indeed, even with Christianity itself—becomes socially meaningless.