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The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors That Will Crash The American Church. . .And How To Prepare Paperback – January 15, 2013
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From the Back Cover
In The Great Evangelical Recession, award-winning journalist and pastor John Dickerson identifies six factors that are radically eroding the American church and offers biblical solutions to prepare us for spiritual success, even in the face of alarming trends.
If you care about the state of the church in America, this is both your wake-up call and your road map to genuine hope.
"A brilliant book. A must-read for any Christian hoping to see their faith regain traction in a changing world."--Gabe Lyons, author, The Next Christians; founder, Q Ideas
"John Dickerson is that rarity among evangelicals--a journalist of the highest capacity, but more than that, an analyst of breadth, insight, and laser-sharp foresight. With persuasive force, his book portrays the future status and functioning of the church in a national culture that is alienated from Christianity. Few writers can gather, process, distill, and apply a host of facts with the precision of John Dickerson."--John McCandlish Phillips, veteran New York Times journalist and author
"An important book that every believer should not only read but heed."--Cal Thomas, USA Today columnist and Fox News personality
"John Dickerson has pulled together some sobering statistics and laid out a biblical game plan for dealing with the inevitable cultural changes that lie ahead. These aren't changes that might occur. They are changes that have occurred (the horse-is-already-out-of-the-barn-type changes). I would encourage every Christian leader to read, ponder, and consider the facts and the strategies John presents in The Great Evangelical Recession. It will help prepare you for the future."--Larry Osborne, pastor and author, North Coast Church, Vista CA
"Nobody likes getting a bad diagnosis--whether it's medical, financial, or spiritual. But once we get past the reality that things aren't the way we thought they were, we're actually in the best position to turn our circumstances around for the good. John Dickerson's workup on the health and welfare of the evangelical cause may jolt your spiritual senses, but he's followed it up with a prescription that will work. There's no gloom or doom in The Great Evangelical Recession--just an honest assessment of where we are and solid hope for what we need to do to get to where we need to be."--Dr. Tim Kimmel, author of Grace-Based Parenting and In Praise of Plan B
"The Great Evangelical Recession has gone a long way in contextualizing the plight of the church in today's culture. There is no question that the church has weakened over these last few decades, and before we can expect our Lord to bring healing and revitalization to its health, there must be a humble truthfulness to our condition. John Dickerson's work has served us well in bringing sense to what brought us to this point and providing honest reflection upon it. I believe we could once again see a dynamic and powerful witness to our world from believers honoring their Lord and bringing glory to their heavenly Father."--Dr. Darryl DelHousaye, president of Phoenix Seminary
About the Author
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This book did an excellent job of helping me wrap my mind around what's going on - identifying the cause of the problem. The first half of the book is a pretty clear wake-up call to the church - there's a problem. I found myself arguing with the author a few times, but then he'd provide research or multiple examples that would force me to question my own experiences and realize that he's correct. The evangelical church in America is facing disaster. The second half of the book lays out solutions that are Biblical, yet practical. Again, there were times I wanted to argue with the author, but as the first half of the book makes clear, if the church keeps doing the same stuff we've been doing and trying to ignore that there's a problem, the church will become increasingly irrelevant. The author's experience as a journalist makes this a well-written book.
Chapters 2-6 talk about how American Christans are hated; dividing (i.e. not unified); bankrupt (sharply declining in giving); bleeding (young people leaving the church en masse); and sputtering (few new converts to Christianity).
The only reason I'm not giving this book five stars is that the second half (solutions) is weak. When a nation is living under God's judgment, we should expect exactly what is happening, as outlined in this book. The only solution is American Christians' standing firm in truth and grace, regardless of how long the current accelerating decline continues.
The problems? He often talks out of both sides of his mouth. For example, he emphasizes the homosexual agenda as a primary external threat to the evangelical community. Yet he urges that evangelicals on both the left and the right unite, ignoring how the political left is completely synonymous with the homosexual agenda (even the right is sometimes). He also treats the evangelical community as a kind of tribe that needs to be preserved, rather than emphasizing that the main driver needs to always be God's glory and the salvation of souls. Finally, and probably most significantly, even in his narrowed definition of evangelical he is still too wide. The main uniting point is the inerrancy of Scripture and the love of Jesus. All well and good, but that is such a wide net that it can include some non=evangelical groups.
1) Every industry is in the process of being re-invented by technology top to bottom. Why would the organized religion industry be any different? What would that look like?
2) Bequests and increased volunteer labor seem like bandaids for the trend towards reduced giving. The root cause is a steady increase in institutional mistrust over many decades. Radical transparency and clear reporting on the impact of giving are the way to attack the root cause. I am convinced people want to give where they see impact. There is at least the beginning of some thought leadership in this area in various open government initiatives.
3) This is really a health of society issue, not just a health of the evangelical church issue. We were built on a biblical foundation. We can’t take that for granted any more and in fact the foundation is in danger of completely collapsing after a long sustained assault. We need to reclaim the moral high ground.