In HOPE

  In HOPE 6.10                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

J.K. Jones has written a helpful little book entitled What the Monks Can Teach Us (Heartspring, 2005 - 80 pages). Jones teaches at Lincoln Christian College. He helps us understand (and perhaps even desire) the emerging "re-monking" of the church. The book is introductory-level, and nicely written. 

Hope Happenings

Hope International head women's basketball coach T.J. Hardeman has been named the 2005-2006 GSAC Coach of the Year. Hardeman, who is in his second season as head of the women's program, guided the Royals to its best showing since joining the Golden State Athletic Conference at the start of the 1999-2000 season. This season's record of 18-12 (60%) eclipsed last season's 6-27 (18%) and produced one of the most remarkable turnarounds in conference history.

 

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

 

"the reality was that the path away from church was part of my journey toward the real god." (Renee Altson, Stumbling Toward Faith, p.140)


The Changing Church

George Barna claims that in recent years 20 million people have left mainline and mainstream churches in the USA in pursuit of alternative faith experiences (home churches, cyber churches, etc.). By 2025, he estimates, 30-35% of Christians in the USA will be in traditional churches, 30-35% in alternative contexts, and 30-35% will depend on media, arts, etc for deepening their faith.

In short, Barna expects traditional church attendance to halve over the next 20 years!

These projections, if true, will dramatically change the landscape of Christendom in America and the West. How should we respond?

Some leaders in mainstream churches will simply ratchet up their programs and services to win back the "lapsed." This approach, however, fails to realize that the mass exodus is not over poor programming but superficial spiritual experience. People are not seeking more excellence but greater authenticity. Intimacy drives them, not entertainment.

Other leaders will choose to sit back and criticize the "faithless." They will expend much energy justifying their structures and defending their relevance and faithfulness. Their attitude towards the departed will reflect resignation and shades of resentment. They'll deny the reality of what is happening, hoping it will pass and people will return. Let's hope they don't suffocate with their head in the sand.

Finally, a few leaders will take the trouble to ask questions and converse with those who are opting elsewhere. These leaders will not antagonize or blame the "dearly departed" but will bless them and seek ways to partner with them in building a network of alternative faith communities. But this will be at some personal cost.

Historically, Sunday attendance figures or the numbers of small groups have been the primary indicators of success or failure. These statistics have, in turn, become central to our identity. I don't just pastor, but I pastor a church of 250. Or, I pastor a church with 29 small groups. Too often we assess our personal value based on the statistical rather than the vocational.

The dramatic rise of alternative faith communities, however, will force many of us to rediscover the joy of our calling rather than the joy of our achievements.

We have no power over the momentous shifts happening in Christendom. But we do have several choices we can make. First, we can give fresh and creative focus to authenticity, intimacy, and community within the mainstream churches. Second, we can support and prepare people for alternative faith communities, rather than fear or resist this development.

If Barna is correct, and he probably is, we face enormous changes in the next 10 years ... changes that are already well underway. These shifts, although unsettling for many of us, have the potential to breathe exciting new life into the Kingdom. Revolutionary faith is usheringin a fascinating new era.

In HOPE -

David

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/