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The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches Hardcover – Unabridged, February 24, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Second Printing edition (February 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310277132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310277132
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Dave Olson sheds invaluable insight on the condition, direction, and immediate needs of the American Church. Dave writes with a rare combination of pastoral experience and denominational leadership backed up by rich church research. Thankfully, his message is not the typical, fatalistic, doom-filled prophecy about the imminent demise of the American Church. Instead, this book is packed with valuable insight, priceless research, and years of wisdom, all pointing toward practical answers about how to renew Christ's church. -- Craig Groeschel - Pastor, LifeChurch.tv, Edmund, OK

David Olson has given the American Church the gift of truth and hope in one powerful package. This book is a wonderfully balanced presentation of "just the facts" woven skillfully together with colorful metaphors that lead the reader to a clear understanding of the dangers and the opportunities facing the Body of Christ in the United States. It is a "must read" for Christian leaders determined to develop strategic plans to reach the multitudes of fellow citizens who are currently disconnected from the Church that Jesus is building. -- Steve Pike - Director, Church Planting and Development, Assemblies of God

The American Church in Crisis is a reality check that provides an honest look at the state of the church in America. Employing thorough research that yield eye-opening statistics, Dave Olson gives us a realistic snapshot of the state of the American church. This book is a prophetic call to prepare ourselves for the next phase of the church in America - a dynamic phase that requires a ministry of church planting and church revitalization in an increasingly diverse, multi-ethnic landscape. Every pastor, church leader, denominational leader, or Christian concerned about the future of the church in the United States needs to read this book. -- Soong-Chan Rah - Milton B. Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary

Review

“Armed with helpful statistical data, this volume offers a clear picture of the changing landscape of the North American ministry context and its implications, making it an invaluable tool for church planters and pastors.” -- Peter T. Cha

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Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend this book for pastors and denominational officials.
David W. Jones
Though Olson said the same stuff Barna would have...the American institutional church is in serious trouble.
M. McDaniel
The book was an interesting combination of detailed statistics and informed speculation.
Tim Lubinus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Carl H. Nelson on February 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book does an excellent job of bridging a well-researched assessment of the Church in America, with practical responses that the Church must make in order to fulfill the mission of the Kingdom of God.

Olson approaches the reality of an American Church in decline with love and respect for the Body of Christ; while he gives church leaders a loud wake up call, he also offers hope by prescribing that the Church focus on the message and mission of Jesus. As a church-planting leader and pastor, he is committed to growing churches and transforming lives. He holds true to that goal while shaking up the comfortable status quo that much of the American church has settled into.

Pastors & denominational leaders of both mainline and Evangelical churches, particularly those in urban and 1st and 2nd ring suburban churches, should read this book. It will also be helpful for any established church that wishes to remain alive and healthy for at least one more generation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. McDaniel on July 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It was refeshing reading research beyond Barna. Though Olson said the same stuff Barna would have...the American institutional church is in serious trouble. Olson seemed to be a little more broad and deep. Instead of relying solely on his own data, as Barna would, he brought in other sources and gave a comprehensive look at the church.

I loved the pro church planting perspective. American churches need to plant 2,900 churches a year just to keep pace with the growth in population (p 181).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andy Rowell on November 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There is a troubling lack of clarity on methodological issues in Olson's book. Olson's conclusion that the church in the United States is in crisis and that this can be shown with quantitative data differs from what other sociologists of religion are saying (See below). Olson writes, "In reality the church in America is not booming. It is in crisis. On any given Sunday, the vast majority of Americans are absent from church. Even more troublesome, as the American population continues to grow, the church falls further and further behind. If trends continue, by 2050 the percentage of Americans attending church will be half the 1990 figure" (page 16).

Olson's data seems rather to lead to a more modest claim: Based on the data that Olson has assembled from various denominational offices, there are some worrisome trends while there are also some encouraging trends about church attendance in the US; the limitations of Olson's data precludes sweeping generalizations about Christianity in the US. He is correct though that some churches and denominations are facing declines in attendance. His ideas for stemming that decline are welcome.

Stanley Presser and Mark Chaves sum up in the following quote what a number of sociologists of religion have concluded about the American church. "Yet, existing evidence does not definitively establish whether attendance at religious services declined in American society from the 1950s to the present. We examine the trend in religious service attendance between 1990 and 2006. Evidence from several sources converges on the same answer: weekly attendance at religious services has been stable since 1990. However one reads the evidence about trends between World War II and 1990, the recent past has been a time of stability.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James V. Dougans on July 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The American Church is in crisis. This may not be evident. Some polls report that 40 percent of the population attends church each Sunday. In fact, only 20 percent of the population attends church each Sunday. In addition, church attendance is not keeping up with a growing population.

The American Church in Crisis offers a comprehensive overview of the situation. Author David T. Olson presents a statistical picture of American religious life. He describes how church attendance is stagnant. In 1990 52 million people attended church on any given Sunday. In 2006 this number remains unchanged. Yet during the last 16 years the population of the United States has increased by 52 million people.

Olson wonders if we will experience another Millennium Effect. The years 1000 to 1033 were remarkable for their spiritual fervor. People expected many miracles to occur 1,000 years after Christ's death. As the second millennium begins Catholic churches face a shortage of priests and mainline churches are not starting enough new churches.

The American Church in Crisis offers a look at where churches are growing. The American church is growing fastest in zip codes that are more affluent and also more educated. Younger churches grow fastest. After 40 years most churches start to decline in membership. Churches with younger members also grow faster because more members are in the child bearing years. Surprisingly churches in urban locations showed the most growth, even more than those churches in suburban locations.

Olson asks the question will the church become extinct like the dodo bird or will it rebound from the brink of extinction like the eagle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophile on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered The American Church in Crisis expecting a stale rendering of statistical information. To my surprise it was not only extraordinarily informative but presented in a very engaging style.
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