We Don’t Talk About That at Church

We talk about all kinds of juicy, newsy things with friends at work or school. But not at church. No. No. No. We can’t talk about that at church. Someone might get upset. But the church’s avoidance of these hot topics is one of the very things that is driving people away from church participation today. […]

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Meet and Greet: Shake and Fake?

Whenever a pastor or worship leader prods us to “stand and greet your neighbor,” I muster my little smile and go through the motions. “Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” I assume the goal is to shake as many hands as I can in 60 seconds. I usually squeeze seven or eight hands as I twirl like a […]

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Bible-Centered . . . or Jesus-Centered?

The man caught me after a screening of our documentary film, When God Left the Building. He wanted to talk about the “real reason” the American church is struggling. “Don’t you think the main problem is biblical illiteracy?” he asked. “Nobody knows what’s in the Bible anymore.” His concern is a common one. It’s caused […]

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Shame on you

Shaming Them into Church

“You should go to church–and like it, whether you like it or not.” Some responders to my articles on the Dones (people who’ve left the organized church) have assigned total blame to the Dones themselves. “They’re backsliders,” they say. “It’s their duty to obey God and get their backsides back to church.” I’ve seen a […]

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Church bans

Ban the Books, Writers and Musicians

In times of loss, some organizations and their leaders react with primal instincts, which only hastens their demise. This self-destructive tendency appears in churches, businesses and political parties. Their leaders contend that the remedy for their decline is an intensification of their old brand distinctives. They react with strident efforts to drive their image toward the extreme, toward […]

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Same-sex marriage

10 Ways Through the Same-Sex Tsunami

Some say this is the one issue that will single-handedly destroy the church in America. I don’t buy that. But I do anticipate that some churches will suffer unnecessarily because of their mishandling of the same-sex controversy. Whether they like it or not, churches will increasingly face decisions related to homosexuality. These include: References to […]

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The Almost Dones

They’re Almost Done with Church–and More Conservative

Soon-to-be defectors are sitting in the pews of America’s churches. Unless something changes, they’re going to join the Dones. While conducting research on the phenomenon of the Dones—those formerly faithful churchgoers who have given up on the organized church—sociologist Josh Packard uncovered another sizable group—the Almost Dones. Packard’s book Church Refugees describes the large group […]

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Church back door

The Church’s Hidden Back Door

Beef up outreach. Emphasize evangelism. Plant more churches. Polish the marketing. None of this is reversing the overall trend of church decline. Even when a church attracts new members it doesn’t grow. Why? It can’t add people fast enough to make up for the legions slipping out the back door. They are the Dones–those who […]

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Church giving on decline

Donations Up–Except at Church

Are people in the pew pinching their pennies? Across the country, congregations and denominations are recording year-over-year declines in giving. For some it’s reached panic time. What’s going on? Have general economic conditions made people stingier? Apparently not. National statistics show that overall charitable giving has actually increased in recent years. And donations are expected to increase […]

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Societal decline

The Big Unrealized Hope for a Crumbling Culture

These days, what is the American church known for? Is it known more for what it stands FOR, or for what it stands AGAINST? We’ve posed that question to audiences across the country. Overwhelmingly, they say the church today is most known for what it opposes. Research shows that the church’s finger-wagging reputation is a […]

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