The church, God’s mission, and the challenges of a changing culture
Ed: Why did you write this book?
Craig and Dwight: It is our assessment that two great unravelings are occurring in America at the beginning of the 21st century. The first is the continued unraveling of the Enlightenment project that over several centuries provided for a ‘can do’ optimism and expectation of progress within U.S. culture.
The erosion of confidence in the country’s ability to manage successfully its future in making life better for all is dramatically diminishing or being challenged by emerging generations.
The second is the continued unraveling of the ‘churched culture’ built upon the expectation that the church was to have a major role to play in shaping the cultural ethos and providing moral values for shaping life. This expectation was inherent within the European tribal Christian faith traditions that immigrants brought to the colonies and which eventually became Christian denominations in America.
There are many factors contributing to these two unravelings which are laid out in the book in detail. For example, changing immigration patterns and the overall composition of the population, declining influence of the Christian faith in society, membership decline or plateauing of growth in the majority of denominations, the rise of the majority church in the Global South, the increased polarization of society, etc.
While Christianity in America has undergone at least four major transition phases over the last 400+ years, what is important to understand is that the present and fifth transition is a type of ‘change in kind.’
The church in America is now undergoing a major deconstruction of its historical identity and its organizational and institutional systems. This is requiring …