What if you had been warned about the recent recession? There were people who warned it was coming, but the right people were not listening.
Dickerson believes the American church is facing a great recession. All the signs are there, he says. The church as we know it will face great upheaval. Ministry leaders can prepare now to survive and thrive in a changing future.
Dickerson has taken research from many experts. He has used the information to describe what is changing, why it is changing, and how to prepare for it.
In the first part of the book he identifies the six trends of decline.
Inflated: the church isn't as large as we have been told.
Bankrupt: donations are declining, the giving generation is dying.
Hated: cultural change is accelerating, we are in a postChristian age.
Dividing: the church is dividing over issues, reacting to the religious right.
Bleeding: we are losing the next generation, over half the kids born into the church are leaving.
Sputtering: the engine of discipleship making is not keeping pace with population growth.
In the second part, Dickerson casts a vision, giving six solutions for recovery.
Re-valuing: Holy Spirit.
Solvent: ministry funding.
Good: proactive ambassadors.
Uniting: evangelical unity.
Re-igniting: personal evangelism.
Dickerson says his ministry is only a few years old and they are still learning how to apply these principles. They have made it their top priority, however, to equip God's people for individual evangelism.
He reminds us that the stakes are eternal in this spiritual struggle of unseen forces of good and evil. He also reminds us that the church started with 120 individuals empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I have to admit, I was surprised, might I say shocked, in reading this book. I had no idea of the real size of the church in America. I had no idea of the decline. I had no idea people of the "greatest" generation are the real money givers in the church and they are dying off. Dickerson has certainly opened my eyes to the state of the church in the U.S.
I would encourage every ministry leader to read this book. Go through it in your staff meetings. Give it to your lay leaders. Dickerson may not have all the answers, but he will certainly get you on the right road.
John S. Dickerson is a nationally awarded journalist and third generation senior pastor. He serves at Cornerstone, an Evangelical Free Church in Prescott, AZ. Learn more at www.JohnSDickerson.com.
Baker Books, 256 pages. Publisher product page.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.