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Hardcover The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches Book

ISBN: 0310277132

ISBN13: 9780310277132

The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches

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Book Overview

Groundbreaking research based on a national database of over 200,000 churches shows that the overall United States population is growing faster than the church. The director of the American Church Research Project, Dave Olson, has worked to analyze church attendance, showing that it is virtually unchanged from fifteen years ago while our population has grown by fifty-two million people. What does this mean for you, your church, and the future of Christianity...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Needed: More New Churches

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. Olson suggests a key to rebounding is starting 2,900 more new churches each year on top of the 4,000 normally started each year. Each year 6,900 new churches need to be started. The author does not leave the reader with these troubling statistics. He also offers a way forward. He notes for example that each new church needs to be given the best chance to achieve expectations. That means spending enough money, employing the parent church model, assessing and selecting gifted pastors, launching with a solid number and supporting the new church with coaching. He closes with the reminder that Jesus must be at the center of what is preached and proclaimed. Relevance and strategizing are secondary to putting Jesus at the center of the potter's wheel. An encounter with Jesus is what will transform lives and reenergize the church.

Great for Info

This book is great! It details the information every church needs to recognize the problems of todays church. If you work in the church then you need this book.

comprehensive look @ the church

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).

Incredible Resource

This book is filled with much needed data. However, he does move beyond data to reflection and what should be done. I highly recommend this book. You can draw your own conclusions from the data. He does move from fact to opinion - in terms of how to apply the information. I don't know I'd agree with all his conclusions, but you can't argue with the graphs!

Great analysis, helpful responses, and easy-to-read for Church leaders

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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