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Developing a Missional Response to Seismic Shifts in the Church

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

It’s time to stop holding on to yesteryear and start looking for ways to introduce Jesus to our dark world.

There have been two seismic shifts in the church and culture in the English-speaking Western world over the past few decades. The first shift is predominantly a good one, while the second shift has mixed reactions.

Seismic Shift #1: An Increased Focus on Church Planting

Recently, I came across a tweet from my friend, Jeff Christopherson, who leads the North American Mission Board’s Send Network.

I love this! In the Southern Baptist Convention, church plants baptize almost four times the number of people than existing established churches! I agree with the hashtag, #plantingworks.

Statistics like this are one of the reasons that denominations are placing a greater emphasis on church planting. The dynamic long-term growth of many church plants has helped as well. Consider Life Church with Craig Groeschel, Saddleback with Rick Warren, and Redeemer Presbyterian with Tim Keller, among many others. Compare that to a few decades ago, when church planting was on the periphery and seen as a ‘suspicious activity’ to most.

Seismic Shift #2: The Church Moving to the Periphery

Over the past few decades another shift has occurred—the Church has moved from the center of the culture and increasingly to the side. In some places, like the U.S. North East, provinces like Quebec, and cities like Portland, this shift occurred years ago. In other states and regions (like in the U.S. South), the shift has just begun.

Although there’s been a greater emphasis on church planting and church growth, and church attendance has been relatively steady, the culture has not changed for the most part. In fact, it has become increasingly secular and pluralistic, with more people declaring “none” as their religious status.

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