By Lyle E. Schaller
Switch: Is great thing, or a nasty factor? That relies, says Lyle E. Schaller, in your point of view and values. Any given switch will be threatening if your entire values are wedded to the way in which issues are actually, when you can in basic terms view the long run throughout the lens of the prior. Or it may be fascinating, in the event that your perspective is aimed toward the recent chances that would come up from this transformation. by way of numerous examples of large-scale, discontinuous swap that experience happened during the last ten to thirty years, Schaller prepares church leaders to orient themselves to the hot demanding situations and possibilities for ministry that might end result from the speeded up transition happening round us.
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That marketplace has expanded at least twentyfold in four decades. The marketplace includes a growing number of parachurch organizations, independent publishing houses, theological seminaries, profit-making corporations in music, independent parish consultants, church-related colleges, independent entrepreneurs, private fund-raisers, architects, management consultants, authors, retreat centers, and state university programs of continuing education for the clergy. The newest kid on the block is the self-identified teaching church.
The revision of the Internal Revenue Code in 1954 and the emergence of the large regional shopping centers in the post-1955 era changed the first of those two traditional patterns of human behavior. Three or four decades later, however, new generations of residents of the central cities were finding it easy to commute out to the regional megachurch that served a constituency living within a thirty-five-mile radius. The change in the Internal Revenue Code that rewarded new construction not only encouraged the construction of hundreds of new retail shopping centers, it also undermined the economic vitality of the downtown department store, the neighborhood pharmacy, the one-screen motion-picture theater, the neighborhood hardware store, the family doctor with a solo practice, and the neighborhood grocery store.
Telephone directories? The answer, of course, is each one is larger than it was many years ago. Protestant congregations should be added to that list. In 1890, according to the Census of Religious Bodies conducted by the United States Bureau of the Census, the 196,000 Protestant congregations reported a combined total of 14 million members who were invited to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Those numbers produced a (mean) average of 71 members per congregation. By 1906 the mean for all Protestant congregations was 104 communicants per congregation.