The Irrelevant Church

A week ago I wrote about The Obsolete Church.  In that post I suggested that while the little c church (local congregations or communities of faith) remains vital the big C Church (denominations and other institutional expressions) have become obsolete.  That post generated more feedback in a variety of forums than any piece I wrote all summer. Apparently "obsolete" is not as clear of a word as I thought it was.  As a result, I will try to build on what I said in that piece by adding a new Read More …

End of an Era

Travis Scholl, managing editor of theological publications at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis, recently reflected on what some view as signs that we are at or nearing the end of an era.  More specifically, he mentioned two recent news stories: (1) Alban Institute's decision to shut its doors and (2) the Unitarian Universalist Association's decision to sell its historic headquarters atop Beacon Hill in Boston. Scholl places these changes in their appropriate historical context: as we come down Read More …

WHCB: Summary & Next Steps

I have devoted most of my posts over the last week to exploring an important topic: "What's Holding Christianity Back."  Using a list of five items proposed by Christian Piatt, I considered church buildings, denominations, worship, church boards, and fear. So What? These factors are quite real.  They must not be ignored.  Reading these posts, pondering your own church experiences, and considering how an awareness of these issues may prove helpful as you live in the present with Read More …

WHCB: Denominations

Christian Piatt includes denominations on his list of five things that are holding Christianity back.  He suggests that with so many denominations the "distinction from others like them are so minute that even the members within a given denomination can’t tell you what makes them unique."  Additionally, he argues that "with the trend toward personal and local autonomy taking hold in many Christian communities, there is increasingly less of a reason to keep such hierarchic corporate structures on Read More …

What’s Holding Christianity Back? (WHCB)

Christian Piatt is the author of multiple books, including Banned Questions About Jesus and Banned Questions About the Bible.  Recently, he shared a list of things he feels are holding Christianity back: church buildings, denominations, worship, church boards, and fear. So What? Piatt labels these items as "the five biggest things I’ve seen that tend to keep us from doing our best work as the living, breathing body of Christ in the world today."  While he and I may disagree a Read More …

Self-Appraisal Statement

My understanding of who I am is shaped more by following the way of Jesus than any other factor.  I strive to live the love of neighbor Jesus taught by embodying an ever-widening inclusiveness of the circle of those I count as neighbor.  My academic preparation for Christian ministry in schools affiliated with three traditions, varied roles in parish ministry in congregations affiliated with four additional denominations, and interactions with those in the wider family of faith through a variety Read More …

Reorganizing Denominations

In the "Under Discussion" column in the June edition of Christianity Today, six evangelical leaders responded to the question "Should denominations be organized geographically?"  Their responses follow: Yes: Carl Trueman and Greg Peters Between Yes and No: Bob Thompson and R. Albert Mohler Jr. No: Will Willimon and Paul Detterman (p.12). So What? I often write about the future of denominations on this blog.  The only thing about which I am certain is that the future will look Read More …

Future Church – More Egalitarian

Church v.2020 - Ten Changes: #2 More Egalitarian – Less Hierarchical When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will be more egalitarian and less hierarchical.  This shift will be fueled by a greater emphasis on the priesthood of all believers, including efforts to help all within the faith community identify and use their gifts in areas of personal interest and passion; use of technology, especially to help those in the community be more connected (more Read More …

The Church in 2020 – Major Changes Ahead

I have spent a considerable amount of time studying the landscape of American Christianity since the 1950s.  Any time I make a presentation on the topic, people always ask about the future.  In order to more fully answer those questions I devised a list of changes I believe to be most likely.  The original list was created in 2006, before I entered the blogosphere. When I revised the list and turned it into a "top ten" in 2009, I published it on my blog.  In light of significant changes in Read More …

Is Christianity on a Path Toward Extinction?

John Shelby Spong served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001.  In retirement, he has been a prolific writer and speaker.   He concluded a recent essay outlining his thoughts on the future of Christianity with these words: The problems facing institutional Christianity today in the Western world cannot be addressed by tinkering around the edges of our theological formularies or structures . . . We are not today in a temporary status of watching Read More …