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The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of Over 200,000 Churches [Hardcover]

By David T. Olson (Author) & Craig Groeschel (Foreword by)
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Item description for The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of Over 200,000 Churches by David T. Olson & Craig Groeschel...

Analytical research from a database of more than 200,000 North American churches reveals the population is growing faster than church attendance. This guide shows the problems as well as the potential for American churches.

Publishers Description
Groundbreaking research based on a national database of over 200,000 churches shows that the overall United States population is growing faster than the church. The director of the American Church Research Project, Dave Olson, has worked to analyze church attendance, showing that it is virtually unchanged from fifteen years ago while our population has grown by fifty-two million people.What does this mean for you, your church, and the future of Christianity in North America? The American Church in Crisis offers unprecedented access to data that helps you understand the state of the church today. 'We live in a world that is post-Christian, postmodern, and multiethnic, whether we realize it or not, ' says the author. This book not only gives a realistic picture that confirms hunches and explodes myths, but it provides insight into how the church must change to reach a new and changed world with the hope of the gospel.Readers will find a richly textured mosaic with optimistic and challenging stories. Charts, diagrams, and worksheets provide church leaders and motivated church members with a stimulating read that will provoke much discussion. Questions for discussion accompany the chapters.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Zondervan
Pages   237
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2008
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
Age  18
ISBN  0310277132  
ISBN13  9780310277132  
UPC  025986277130  

Availability  0 units.

More About David T. Olson & Craig Groeschel

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David T. Olson is a religious researcher, church planting leader and leadership coach. For the past twenty years, he has served in leadership for church growth and evangelism in the Evangelical Covenant Church. Dave is also the director of the American Church Research Project. His previous book was The American Church in Crisis (Zondervan). Dave and his wife Shelly live in Minneapolis.

David T. Olson was born in 1953.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Church Growth

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Reviews - What do customers think about American Church In Crisis?

Needed: More New Churches  Jul 10, 2009
The American Church is in crisis. This may not be evident. Some polls report that 40 percent of the population attends church each Sunday. In fact, only 20 percent of the population attends church each Sunday. In addition, church attendance is not keeping up with a growing population.

The American Church in Crisis offers a comprehensive overview of the situation. Author David T. Olson presents a statistical picture of American religious life. He describes how church attendance is stagnant. In 1990 52 million people attended church on any given Sunday. In 2006 this number remains unchanged. Yet during the last 16 years the population of the United States has increased by 52 million people.

Olson wonders if we will experience another Millennium Effect. The years 1000 to 1033 were remarkable for their spiritual fervor. People expected many miracles to occur 1,000 years after Christ's death. As the second millennium begins Catholic churches face a shortage of priests and mainline churches are not starting enough new churches.

The American Church in Crisis offers a look at where churches are growing. The American church is growing fastest in zip codes that are more affluent and also more educated. Younger churches grow fastest. After 40 years most churches start to decline in membership. Churches with younger members also grow faster because more members are in the child bearing years. Surprisingly churches in urban locations showed the most growth, even more than those churches in suburban locations.

Olson asks the question will the church become extinct like the dodo bird or will it rebound from the brink of extinction like the eagle. Olson suggests a key to rebounding is starting 2,900 more new churches each year on top of the 4,000 normally started each year. Each year 6,900 new churches need to be started.

The author does not leave the reader with these troubling statistics. He also offers a way forward.

He notes for example that each new church needs to be given the best chance to achieve expectations. That means spending enough money, employing the parent church model, assessing and selecting gifted pastors, launching with a solid number and supporting the new church with coaching.

He closes with the reminder that Jesus must be at the center of what is preached and proclaimed. Relevance and strategizing are secondary to putting Jesus at the center of the potter's wheel. An encounter with Jesus is what will transform lives and reenergize the church.
Great for Info  Mar 23, 2009
This book is great! It details the information every church needs to recognize the problems of todays church. If you work in the church then you need this book.
Troubling methodological problems  Nov 16, 2008
There is a troubling lack of clarity on methodological issues in Olson's book. Olson's conclusion that the church in the United States is in crisis and that this can be shown with quantitative data differs from what other sociologists of religion are saying (See below). Olson writes, "In reality the church in America is not booming. It is in crisis. On any given Sunday, the vast majority of Americans are absent from church. Even more troublesome, as the American population continues to grow, the church falls further and further behind. If trends continue, by 2050 the percentage of Americans attending church will be half the 1990 figure" (page 16).

Olson's data seems rather to lead to a more modest claim: Based on the data that Olson has assembled from various denominational offices, there are some worrisome trends while there are also some encouraging trends about church attendance in the US; the limitations of Olson's data precludes sweeping generalizations about Christianity in the US. He is correct though that some churches and denominations are facing declines in attendance. His ideas for stemming that decline are welcome.

Stanley Presser and Mark Chaves sum up in the following quote what a number of sociologists of religion have concluded about the American church. "Yet, existing evidence does not definitively establish whether attendance at religious services declined in American society from the 1950s to the present. We examine the trend in religious service attendance between 1990 and 2006. Evidence from several sources converges on the same answer: weekly attendance at religious services has been stable since 1990. However one reads the evidence about trends between World War II and 1990, the recent past has been a time of stability."

Stanley Presser and Mark Chaves, "Is Religious Service Attendance Declining?" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46 (2007): 417.

See also the following books by academic sociologists who essentially agree with the conclusion of Presser and Chaves.
What Americans Really Believe Pages 12-17.
Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners Page 1.
Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America's Largest Churches (J-B Leadership Network Series) Page 4.
God's Potters: Pastoral Leadership and the Shaping of Congregations (Pulpit & Pew) Page 38.
After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion Page 51.
comprehensive look @ the church  Jul 18, 2008
It was refeshing reading research beyond Barna. Though Olson said the same stuff Barna would have...the American institutional church is in serious trouble. Olson seemed to be a little more broad and deep. Instead of relying solely on his own data, as Barna would, he brought in other sources and gave a comprehensive look at the church.

I loved the pro church planting perspective. American churches need to plant 2,900 churches a year just to keep pace with the growth in population (p 181).
Incredible Resource  Mar 8, 2008
This book is filled with much needed data. However, he does move beyond data to reflection and what should be done. I highly recommend this book. You can draw your own conclusions from the data. He does move from fact to opinion - in terms of how to apply the information. I don't know I'd agree with all his conclusions, but you can't argue with the graphs!

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