Church for sale

What’s Next for Idle Church Buildings

“In a decade, America is going to have a whole different look, as far as what is a church and where is a church. And what about all these empty buildings?” asks American Church Magazine publisher Steve Hewitt in the documentary When God Left the Building. Verlon Fosner watched his church, Westminster Community Church in Seattle, […]

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Small trying to be big

How to Impersonate a Big Church

While the senior pastor was out of town he received a message that one of the church members had fallen ill. She was hours away from death. The pastor immediately contacted his newly-appointed associate pastor with the news. The woman died later that day. When the senior pastor returned to town, he learned his associate never attempted […]

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Running from culture wars

Running from the Culture Wars

“This gay rights thing is going to destroy the American church,” the pastor said. Is that true? Many church leaders–on both sides of the gay debate–believe this issue will be the watershed moment for the church. That could be. But not how they think it will. Sociologist Josh Packard’s research for the book Church Refugees uncovered some […]

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Millions are done with the weekly monologue

Done with ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’

People are leaving their churches because they feel excluded. Excluded from participating in the communication of the message. This is one of the unanticipated findings in sociologist Josh Packard’s research on the Dones–formerly active church members who have walked away from all institutional religion. These are people who have heard countless sermons. They tend to […]

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A Message for Control Freaks

Why are some of the organized church’s most dedicated and active members choosing to leave?  Sociologist Josh Packard, author of Church Refugees, sometimes refers to these people as the church’s A students. They’re most likely to contribute, work hard, and lead others. But, increasingly, they’re done. Done with the institutional church altogether.  But why? Why […]

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Kicking out the nominal Christians

Good Riddance to Nominal Christians?

Christian shrinkage. Is that bad news or good news? Well, it depends, it seems. The Pew Research Center’s new study shows that the proportion of Americans who identify as Christian has declined by nearly 8 percent since 2007. That’s significant and historical. And the decline is felt across all Christian sectors–Catholic, mainline Protestant, and evangelical Protestant. […]

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Done with Church, but Not with God

They’re done. Done with the institutional church. They are millions strong. And millions more are about to join them. The Dones, as I refer to them, include some of the established church’s previously most active members, best givers, and most mature believers. Their exodus presents one of the most perplexing challenges for the church as we know it. […]

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church drain

The Thing That’s Draining the Church

What’s the thing that’s draining the life out of the American church? Is it a recent thing–or has it been around a while? People often ask these questions after seeing our film When God Left the Building, which depicts churches, small and large, famous and not, that are struggling to find their way. Is there a […]

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Jesus in town

What If He Actually Came Today?

After watching some of the latest historical Jesus shows on television, I wondered how Jesus would be received if he’d make a similar physical visit today. Would his mission be similar? He’d be coming at a similar time when the religious establishment has calcified around certain practices, places, rules and rituals. Would he seek to shake […]

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When Jesus Becomes a Fill-in-the-Blank

People describe the Christian faith as a “personal relationship with Jesus.” But in the church, how have we gone about encouraging and developing that relationship with Christ? Curiously, church services, classes and programs rarely pursue that relationship like, well, like a real relationship. It’s not for lack of good intentions. At some point, years ago, […]

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