By now the story is an old one -- Mainline churches are in decline. And not just Mainliners, it turns out, but even some of the more evangelical branches of the faith.
Well, as I say, that's the by-now decades-old story, and it's at least partly true, though for sure lots of church leaders have been working hard on many ways to reverse this trend and to get their congregations and denominations in tune for effective ministry in the 21st Century.
In my own congregation, for instance, I chaired a visioning task force in 2011 and 2012 that issued this 51-page report in early 2012 describing our context and making a long series of recommendations for how to move into the future.
But still there are churches that don't seem to be getting the need-to-change message.
Beliefnet.com recently offered this piece to exactly those clueless folks. Have a look. If you find this a good description of your declining community of faith, maybe it's time you and others began to assess how to change.
Or you could just be passionless and let things die. That's the other option.
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CHANGING THIS CHURCH
Why does it seem that change within religious bodies often happens only when some members first break the rules, which finally leads to the rules being changed? Something like that is happening in Seventh-Day Adventism, which is struggling over the role of women as leaders, this report shows.
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P.S.: Tonight or tomorrow evening take your kids or grandkids to "Journey to Bethlehem" at Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, 55th and Brookside. Great pageantry for the Christmas season. Details? Click here.
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ANOTHER P.S.: Take a moment today to give thanks for the just-ended life of Nelson Mandela, an astonishing man. Here's what I posted about him on Facebook last evening: "I've always thought of Nelson Mandela as important and necessary living proof that even flawed people (that's all of us) can stand consistently against evil even as we acknowledge the harsh reality that sometimes we ourselves contribute to it."