Sometimes there are books we just need to read. We read them even if they’re not entertaining, up – lifting, or full of new information, but because we need to hear the message straight up, in a clear and concise way. This describes John Dickerson’s recent book “Great Evangelical Recession, The: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare“.
This is a book that needs to be read by Christian leaders and by anyone who cares about the Church.
Dickerson is an award-winning journalist turned pastor who’s applied his journalistic research skills to identifying major movements within the Evangelical Church today and diagnosing their impact on its future. Then, with a clear and engaging writing style, accompanied by ability to synthesis vast amounts of data and research, Dickerson, outlines 6 significant trends that he believes will lead to an “Evangelical recession”. In addition, he also spells out 6 remedies the Church can take to either change the course of these trends or to navigate effectively through them.
Be warned these 6 trends may shock you. They’re shocking because of the strong case Dickerson builds for each one. They’re also shocking because many of us live inside the Evangelical bubble so do not see ourselves clearly in the context of the rest of the world (I read most of the book on a plane to New York City. As I walked the streets of Manhattan I had no doubt that Christians living in New York would wholeheartedly agree with Dickerson’s conclusions). Yet I also have to admit, at some intuitive level, I’ve known these trends were a reality so part of my shock was that they also confirmed my worst fears.
Amazingly, even with Dickerson’s strong research, I found some reviewers of the book believing Dickerson’s got it wrong, that his assessments are to negative. Ironically many of these folks live and work in places other than cities like New York; instead they live in places such as Colorado Springs, Grand Rapids, or countless communities in the Bible Belt. Personally I’ve concluded that even if Dickerson has over stated his case 50% (which I don’t believe he has), the trends would still demand the prayerful self-assessment by the Church and its leaders. So as a result, our Board and Senior Leaders are reading it, as well as we’re making it available to all our staff and supporters who may want to read it.
So my recommendation is that you make “Great Evangelical Recession, The: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare“ one of your summer reads. Read it with an open mind and a willing heart to hear the hard realities of our world. Then be prepared to do your part to help the Church effectively navigate through these trends.