Dr. Greg Smith is a popular blogger and teacher who says church decline is nothing new and there’s plenty that traditional churches have to offer. For example, today’s seekers are looking for whole-life discipleship, and a place to live with ambiguity that play to mainline strengths.
In this interview hear why Dr. Greg is hopeful for the Church and why we should be too.
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Dr. Greg Smith says that today twice as many people go to conservative, new paradigm, start-up churches than traditional mainline churches – which is a flip-flop from one generation ago. The two attributes leaders need to address that trend are education and authenticity. Here are my notes from the interview:
The Four Reasons
Quoting Mark Chaves’ popular work on contemporary religious trends, Dr. Smith says a combination of smaller fertility rates, declining denominational loyalty, decreased ability to keep members, and taking unpopular stances on some (mainly sexual) issues contribute to the majority of mainline decline in the last generation.
The Nones Are Done
In the 1990′s the number of people polled who answered ‘None of the Above’ when asked about religious preference, doubled. However, these days that number is increasing slowly, if at all – while churches are challenged to regroup and begin making room for ambiguity.
Leaders Are Learners
Dr. Greg says this is the number one attribute today’s church leaders need to cultivate: continuing education! He says the risk-aversion many people have is fueled more by ignorance than reasoned consideration, which would have many congregations more open to technology, communication, and worship innovations.
About Dr. Greg Smith
Dr. Greg Smith is a self-described progressive postmodern postdenominational follower of Jesus who has served in lay and pastoral positions in local congregations within what was once known as mainline Protestantism. His journey has included calls in congregations affiliated with four denominations: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Lutheran (ELCA), Presbyterian (PCUSA), and United Church of Christ (UCC). Additionally, he has consulted with and trained leaders of congregations affiliated with many other denominations (and those associated with churches that are proud to be known as nondenominational). Currently, Greg balances parish ministry, blogging (sowhatfaith.com), and work for a private university.