Matthew R. Perry

Why is the Western Church Declining? Outdated Modes of Doing Church

In Church Life, Evangelism, Missions on May 8, 2007 at 2:14 pm

A great article from the goodmanson blog. Here’s an excerpt:

The Western Church is in decline. Part of the challenge is the church is stuck in old models of ecclesiology based on Constantinian views of church. The church is seen as a power structure seeking to ‘attract’ people from the outside to join. This model is set to fail to change our culture, as author Alan Hirsch puts it:

A combination of recent research in Australia indicates that about 10-15 percent of that population is attracted to what we call the contemporary church growth model.

In other words, this model has significant “market appeal” to about 12 percent of our population. The more successful forms of this model tend to be large, highly professionalized, and overwhelmingly middle class, and express themselves culturally using contemporary, “seeker friendly” language and middle-of-the-road music forms. (source: The Forgotten Ways)

In America, we may have a couple decades before we reach the 10-15 percent. Yet churches continue to try to one-up each other to create better programs, funnier messages, more creative marketing to capture people from this pool of seekers.

For example, Outreach magazine’s June 2007 issue reported a seemingly encouraging statistic: 97% of Protestant churches reported doing something evangelistic within the year. (Source: Ellison Research’s “Facts and Trends“) It was only when you dig deeper, the stat loses some punch:

  • 70% did a Vacation Bible School
  • 59% passed out literature such as tracts or magazines
  • 56% held large events such as block parties and fall festivals

These are good things to do, but all of these are attractional-based evangelism that will reach people who share a similar worldview to Christians. Meaning, when people hold a similar morality, view of absolutes and
typically conservative background these events are effective. For most others, they are ineffective.

(To read the rest and see his very viable solution, click here. HT: Mark Combs, once again)

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