2.8.10

Future Trends in Evangelicalism?

Patheos is holding a symposium over the next two weeks on the future of evangelicalism. They have some good authors lined up to share articles, including Mark Noll, Rodney Stark, Richard Foster, and many others.  I am excited.  So, don't be surprised if I blog about some of this stuff; which I am doing right now. 

One of the articles is entitled "Future Trends in Evangelicalism" and is by Ed Stetzer. In it, he argues that there are 4 main issues that need to be discussed/addressed (which I am summarizing in brackets in a way that I think draws them together):
1. Learning to navigate a "post-seeker" context. (know our world)
2. Regain confidence in the gospel (know what we believe)
3. Address the definition of evangelicalism (know who we are)
4. Address our shallow definitions of discipleship (know how to live)

In other words, we have to figure out or firm up the very basics of this movement we call 'evangelicalism.'  Sadly, I don't think he is wrong.  Our declining numbers tell the story well enough for point one.  The conflicts among churches and large debates about the very basic terminology of our faith which have gone on in recent years speaks clearly to point 2 (i.e. Wright vs. Piper on "Justification" or The Emerging Church movement with McLaren and Guests, and so on).  For point 3, evangelical writers have long bemoaned any kind of common definition with which to label this elusive group.  For point 4... well, Stetzer shares the stats himself: 16% of evangelicals read their bible every day.  3 out of 20 people... ouch.  

Here's my question though, what can we do about it?  I am thinking especially of the last point.  I have never been in an evangelical church that did not urge its members to read scripture daily, and yet we see the dismal results of the "exhort from the pulpit" strategy.  How can we convince non-Christians that the bible is the word  of Life when we, obviously, are not convinced ourselves? 

I think I will share ideas on how to answer some of this later... :) 

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