In recent months the conversation on Out of Ur has explored why increasing numbers of Christians are opting to pursue Christ apart from a local church. The discussion began with Kevin Miller's review of George Barna's new book, Revolution. And, similar themes were addressed by Dave Terpstra in his post on why the spiritually mature leave the church. Church leaders; however, are no longer the only ones interested in this issue. Time Magazine ran a story on March 6 titled "There's No Pulpit Like Home" discussing the changes occurring in American Christianity and the rise of house churches.
Interestingly, the authors suggest it may be the megachurch advocacy of small groups that has fueled the house church trend:
[The megachurch] is made possible by hundreds of smaller "cell groups" that meet off-nights and provide a humanly scaled framework for scriptural exploration, spiritual mentoring and emotional support. Now, however, some experts look at [small groups]–spreading in parts of Colorado, Southern California, Texas and probably elsewhere–and muse, What if the cell groups decided to lose the mother church?
The Time article also explore the ideas of George Barna's book, Revolution, including Barna's beliefe that in 20 years "only about one-third of the population" will rely on conventional congregations for the spiritual development. To balance this radical forecast Time spoke with Jeffery Mahan from the Iliff School of Theology who agrees that a significant shift is happening in the American church, although it may not be as dramatic as Barna suggests.
American participation in formal church has risen and fallen throughout history, he notes, and after a prolonged post–World War II upswell, big-building Christianity may be exhaling ...