Articles tagged with: church decline

11 May 2011

How Is Christianity Thinkable Today?

Posted in Emerging, Church

Michel de certeauI was recently introduced to the French sociologist and theologian named Michel de Certeau and an essay he wrote in 1973 entitled “How is Christianity Thinkable Today?” (You can find it in The Postmodern God.)

In this essay Certeau reflects on the decline of the church, and he asks how can we imagine a vital, living, church today, and from whence that vitality and life arises.

I love his answer...

02 May 2011

Shifting the Focus to Congregations: The ELCA LIFT Report

Posted in ELCA, Church

LIFT ReportEvery mainline Protestant denomination is struggling with declining membership, decreasing financial support, and the question of how best to be the Body of Christ in this time.

In response, my denomination, the ELCA, created the LIFT (Living into the Future Together) Task Force, which was charged with making recommendations on how to change our denominational structures or "ecology" in order to help best fulfill our mission today.  The task force issued its final report to the ELCA on April 11th.

My short take is that the task force shows very good instincts, particularly in its overarching recommendation regarding the shift of focus and resources to local congregations. However, I think the report also falls victim to three persistent problems we face in our church ecology.

13 April 2011

The Church is Not a Victim of Culture

Posted in Culture, Church

Culture Isn't Killing Us. Our Grief Is.

Empty PewsI recently attended a retreat with a number of church friends.  We spent part of our time together looking at sociological data on religion in America over the last 60 years.

We paid particular attention to mainline denominations, including their declining attendance and size.  Over the course of an hour we talked about all sorts of reasons for that decline - political, cultural, sociological.

Not once, however, did we talk about anything the church may have done (or not) to contribute to its decline.  To be fair, that question wasn’t put to us, as such. But nothing about the church’s role - in the last 60 years - over the course of 60 minutes?

It was a rather remarkable omission.