The researchers began by asking themselves some questions (here's a small sample):
● What were gas stations like thirty years ago?
You can perhaps guess what questions came next.
● Is the church affected by similar changes?
● Is your congregation a place embracing change or a refuge from uncomfortable change?
The book asserts that 80% of congregations are in decline, due to a combination of factors, not the least of which is the change from a churched to an unchurched society. People no longer automatically participate in a community of faith; and as a result, the way we interact with the community outside the walls of our church must change.
There's a lot to digest in this book, but the point I'm pondering right now (and invite you to ponder with me) is this:
In the churched society, in our church 30 or 40 or 50 years ago, "mission" meant something very different than it means today. Congregations functioning well in the unchurched society of today see themselves as mission outposts in a mission field. These congregations perceive mission as starting at their property line, not in some far off land. Rather than focusing all their energy to meet the needs of current members, they instead invest in new ways to speak to the people in their community.