Carol Howard Merritt has a good post on how, despite the fact that the "emerging church" movement started among evangelicals, it may be the mainline that is best suited for the postmodern era.
One can argue about whether Lutherans are really mainline. I suppose it depends a great deal on the congregation, but at least in the case of my congregation, what Merritt says of the mainline is true of where I serve:
We have embraced scientific thought, not expecting the newest
discoveries to bow and bend to a six-day creation story. We have
wrestled with biblical literalism, and taken postmodern insights in
hermeneutics seriously. We have questioned theories of atonement for
decades. We have upheld the inherent value and equality of women in our
homes, workplaces, political arenas, and congregations. We have been
engaging in social justice issues, caring for the poor, feeding the
hungry, responding to disasters, and helping the homeless. We do not do
these things only for Christians or as a manipulative evangelistic
tool. But we have also been doing it in the public sphere, working for
change in people’s lives, because we believe in the inherent dignity
and worth of humans, of “the Other.”
I couldn't agree more, but I share her concern that it's still an open question whether the mainline can embrace evangelism enough to really reach out to an increasingly secularized world. Here in Minnesota it seems that we are finally reaching the cliff -- I mean a sudden and dramatic drop-off in the familiarity of folk with the "way we do things", be it how to find a Bible verse, a common table prayer or the assumption that kids will attend confirmation instruction. We're still not the Pacific Northwest, but there's no question which direction the trend is headed.
Can we start articulating the Gospel -- not just good social justice values but THE GOOD NEWS -- in a compelling way? If we can, all the above paragraph will be banked authenticity, the most powerful currency in our culture today.