There’s little doubt something fundamental in Western culture is shifting.
And there’s no doubt it’s having and will continue to have a profound impact on the church.
Some opinions (like this study profiled by CNN) have gone so far as to suggest that the changes are so deep that religion (in Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland and other countries) may become extinct within 100 years.
The U.S. isn’t exempt; the researchers simply say they don’t have the right kind of data to predict the outcome in America.
Even if that seems a little extreme, we have all seen emerging trends around us (trends we have talked about before in this space):
People who attend church are attending less often. Unchurched people are changing. The churches that are making an impact 10 years from now will probably be quite different.
It’s important that you have a strategy to respond to the changes. But what if your attitude is even more important than your strategy? When cultural shifts happen, I’ve seen church leaders approach the issue from four principal viewpoints:
One response is helpful; they other three essentially lead nowhere good.
The blamers point to the rise of sports on Sunday, wide open shopping malls, the attraction of the beach in the summer and ski hills in the winter.
They also point fingers at people: The families who have left just weren’t loyal. Unchurched people have it all wrong. They’ll even take aim at the nearest megachurch and blame it for the struggles of their church. Some of them blame the government.
Essentially, a blamer points to anything and anyone that moves that isn’t them. The future is rarely built by people who blame.
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