I recently picked up a copy of Rodney Clapp’s book, A Peculiar People: the Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society. I have come to think of it as something of a contemporary semi-classic and have long wanted to get it.
In the second chapter, Clapp writes,
Pastors and other church leaders face enormous pressures to concentrate on ministry as marketing and psychotherapy–both tendencies that concentrate the practice of faith on the individual. Seminarians all too seriously suggest that the study of theology is “impractical,” while demanding more counseling courses. People routinely depart churches with the complaint that their “needs weren’t being met” or they “weren’t being fed.” Recently I asked an acquaintance about his church, and he expressed dissatisfaction, then sighed, “Oh well, you know the average church only has a shelf life of three years.”
Now, A Peculiar People was published in 1996. Here’s what I’m wondering: Has anything changed in the last fifteen years?
I know my own church has seen quite a few comings and goings of people in the past decade, and I know that some of the goings would be explained in terms not very different from those Clapp has pointed to here.
I would like to hear from anyone interested. In your experience–at your church or other churches near you–have things stabilized at all since the mid-nineties? Or is this just as germane now as then? Are American Christians still putting the “See-ya!” in ecclesia?