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LEADERSHIP asked a number of pastors, seminary professors, and church consultants to recommend the books that best help American churches "exegete" contemporary culture. Taken from their lists, these are just a few of the books that can give churches insight into the people to whom they'll minister in the coming decade.
The People's Religion: American Faith in the 90's
by George Gallup, Jr., and Jim Castelli
A comprehensive survey of the present American religious landscape. What do Americans want most from their churches? How many Americans have had a religious experience? What percentage believes in God? What percentage prays? Gallup and Castelli answer these and other such questions.
The Clustering of America
by Michael J. Weiss
Harper & Row, 1989
Michael Weiss classifies America not by region or class, but by Zip Codes. Based on an intriguing marketing system, he describes forty neighborhood types - their values, lifestyles, and eccentricities. Whether your church is in a "Furs and Station Wagons" neighborhood or "Norma Rae-ville" or "Smalltown Downtown," it's portrayed here with wit and insight.
200 Predictions for Baby-Boomers: The Next 50 Years
by Cheryl Russell
Cheryl Russell, editor-in-chief of Demographer Magazine, marshals her vast knowledge about the generation born between 1946 and 1964. Making predictions about such areas as the family, work, the home, beliefs, and retirement, she offers insight into the future of the group that now constitutes one-third of the American population.
The Postponed Generation: Why American Youth Are Growing Up Later
by Susan Littwin
William Morrow, 1986
This book probes the minds and hearts of the late baby-boomers and early post-baby-boomers, young adults who in 1986 were between 20 and 35 years old. Susan Littwin sketches a generation "hovering reluctantly in the passageway to maturity in a world for which they were unprepared." The book describes the world they face and their varied responses to it.
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business
by Neil Postman
With pointed wit, Neil Postman argues that we've moved from an age of exposition to an age of entertainment; we're less inclined to respond to reasoned public discussion than to visually entertaining material. He not only shows how the media, especially TV, influences our lives, he also suggests ways we, in turn, can use these influences for higher ends.
Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture
by Lesslie Newbigin
Lesslie Newbigin, missionary to India for forty years, turns the tables and treats the First World as a mission field. Looking at modern Western culture as if from the outside, he explores the question: What would it mean to confront this culture with the gospel? He challenges the world-view that dominates Western men and women, and offers prescriptions for Christian responses.
The Gospel and the American Dream
by Bruce Shelley
Bruce Shelley, professor of church history at Denver Seminary, has a narrower focus than Newbigin: American culture. He analyzes both public and personal issues that challenge the church today, and suggests directions ministry can take.
It's a Different World: The Challenge for Today's Pastor
by Lyle Schaller
Drawing on economic, social, political, historical, and cultural analyses, Lyle Schaller describes contemporary American society and the church. He provides penetrating questions the local church and pastor must ask themselves as they seek to minister in today's world.
Copyright © 1990 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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