Monday, March 23, 2009

The Coming Collapse of Evangelicalism, part 2

I wrote a couple of days ago about the article written in the Christian Science Monitor by Michael Spencer about the collapse of evangelicalism.

After listing the 7 reasons why he believes it will collapse in the next ten years, he explores what will be left.

Ten years is a stunningly small amount of time. Think about what you were doing 10 years ago, and how fast time has flown by since then. Ten years ago I was starting a ministry in Denver called "The Journey Project" that came alongside Jesus followers to help them discover how God created them, how they were gifted and then to expose them to different areas of service opportunities to use their God-given gifts and passions, along with others who were called to the same passion. What were you doing?

Spencer asks "After evangelicalism collapses, what will be left?"

1. Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation and personal success, resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.

2. Catholic and Orthodox churches will grow.

3. A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from it's demise through theological renewal.

4. The emerging church will largely vanish from the landscape.

5. Agressively evangelistic fundamental churches will begin to disappear.

6. Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report.

7. Evangelicalism needs a "rescue mission" from the world Christian community. Missionaries will come from Asia and Africa.

8. Expect a fragmented response to the culture war.

I think that Spencer missed some other important outcomes. I see many, and will mention a few:

Denominations will become increasingly irrelevant as loyalty to a denomination is decreasing on a rapid scale. Relational networks will become the joining places.

Church buildings will become increasingly harder for churches to maintain and many will be sold to secular organizations, forcing churches to either close or go smaller to meet in homes and public spaces.

Large staffs will become a thing of the past as churches will be unable to continue to pay salaries.

Professional theologically trained clergy will be replaced by those that are trained through on the job experience, and most likely, have other roles that pay the bills.

Volunterism in the church will be replaced by people discovering how to make a direct impact in the world and find a way to do it.

Families will discover that they are tired of being separated when they walk in a church building and will find ways to live out their faith together.

People will be less likely to call themselves Christian and more likely to combine aspects of different faiths together, what I like to call "design a faith."

Less and less people will know how to read the Bible or understand it's relevance for life in the 21st century.

Depressed or optimistic? Stay tuned for another day.

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