A few years ago, the primary conversation among church planters and pastors was how the church in the U.S. needs to be “reinvented” so it will grow again. I’ve seen many things in the past 30 years, from expository preaching trends, to worship trends, to unique generational churches, to prototypes be they seeker or purpose driven – and now missional. Yet, the reality is all of these trends were driven at how to grow or jump start the church once again. Most centered on how to communicate clearly with excellence or building relationships of intimacy – all those things are good and will always be good. Many brought necessary adjustments to the church, but for the most part responses were more tribal than transformative across culture.
Without an understanding of culture and where things are – all of those things are useless and can actually become counterproductive. A couple of decades ago Barna began to write about the increasingly irrelevance of the church in the lives of people in the U.S. Yet, two expressions of the church have gained momentum. One is the mega-church – focusing on religious goods and services, at the opposite end of the field are the missional-church focusing on relationships. In the middle ground everyone else is trying to figure out what to do pulling from everyone. In my opinion, none of these are effectively addressing sociological issues that are now impacting the church dramatically.