EXCERPT: Uncomfortable decline among churches

In his new book, Whole Life Transformation: Becoming the Change Your Church Needs, Keith Meyer talks about transforming the church by transforming the pastor. His ministry has included serving three churches as senior pastor and 17 years as executive pastor at Church of the Open Door, Maple Grove, MN. Among his views:

Three recent books examine church attendance trends and confirm Willow Creek’s Reveal study. The church’s failure to make disciples is growing worse each year. Based on current statistics, George Barna’s book, Revolution, predicts that by 2025 only 30 percent of those seeking ways to experience church will do so in what is now the traditional congregational form of church. Many of those opting out are “post-congregational,” that is, while they no longer go to church, they still have church with friends and family in an intimate setting. Barna sees the rise of more family-faith or house churches and even cyber-churches.

In Churchless Faith, Alan Jamieson, studying the patterns of those exiting typical evangelical, Protestant and charismatic churches in Australia and New Zealand, has found that the profile of what he terms the “churchless faithful” is a surprising mix of spiritually mature and highly trained thirty-four to forty-vie-year-olds, the very people churches count on for leadership. (The North American Reveal study shows the same group of mature leaders exiting.)

The last book, the American Church in Crisis by David Olson, is most sobering. Research on more than half of the four hundred thousand churches in the United States documents that American church attendance is in actual decline when measured against the U.S. general population. The American evangelical church, usually growing, is beginning to see the signs of its own decline. This flies in the face of high profile megachurches and their celebrity pastors, which may give us the impression the church is still growing strong.

The final nail in the coffin is the latest report from the Search Institute on the alarming rate of young people falling away from traditional churches. It is getting so bad that America is seen as a mission field by followers of Jesus from Asia, Africa and South America. Philip Jenkins makes the case that Christianity in the Global East and South is surpassing that of the North and West, including America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

How did we get to this place?

Taken from Whole Life Transformation: Becoming the Change Your Church Needs by Keith Meyer. Copyright(c) 2010. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove.


One Response to “EXCERPT: Uncomfortable decline among churches”

  1. David Drake

    Anglican Worship with it’s variety of liturgical expressions combined with biblical preaching and Spirit filled liturgy is poised to be the trump card that might just reverse Barna’s (so called) projections. . . that is if God continues to raise up gospel centered spirit filled, biblical Anglican leaders (who can both lead and work together) between the ages of 24 and 40 in the next ten years. May it be so . . .

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