March 4, 2008

the church in the u.s.

I've had conversations with denominational leaders in San Diego from a wide spectrum the last couple of weeks. A few things seem to pop up with everyone whether they're mainline, Roman Catholic, evangelical... I've tried to sum it up below but I'm really curious as to whether you're hearing, sensing the sames thing... or maybe you completely disagree. For some, this may seem like a "duh" factor... but still I'd love some feedback.

Missional (or the lack thereof): Seems like everyone is concerned about the absence of younger people, churches are dying faster than new churches can get to a self-sustaining place, all in all this seems to be observed as the result of a disconnect with the surrounding culture... stated in various ways. It seems the Church is struggling to determine how to address this.

Discipleship (or the lack thereof): In short, spiritual formation and community life are just not what they used to be. Same as above, it seems the Church is struggling to determine how to address this.

Economic Sustainability (or the lack thereof): This gets at what I'm really curious about... In the conversations I had this last week, almost every denominational leader confided that they weren't sure if their association, conference, whatever-you-call-it would be around in 10 years. The issues above seem to be associated with the lack of sustainability but while these are current "hot topics" they cannot be addressed without some practical correlations to money. The lack of doing so is one of the big problems. People thought the church growth principles would bring back sustainability to denominations but this doesn't seem to be the result in most cases. Instead it just creates bigger models of church that require more and more resources to self-maintain. In other words, they typically have lacked the ability to feed back into denominations and other churches whether new or old.

Can all three of these issues be addressed at the same time?
Am I oversimplifying?
Am I missing something?

What do you say?

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