I tend not to pay much attention to sensationalistic titles. The last thing we need, I figure, is another alarmist manifesto on how bad the world is becoming. And that's what I thought David Olson's The American Church in Crisis was before I took a closer look. Boy, was I mistaken.
Through fairly extensive research, Olson charts the life cycle of churches. He identifies common denominators between growing churches as well as similarities among dying churches. He explores when in its lifetime a church is the most evangelistic, when it becomes the most introspective, and when it begins to decline.
Olson also takes time to address changing sociological trends in American culture that present challenges for the church, including the shifts from Christian to post-Christian society and from modern to postmodern worldviews, and changing ethnic demographics.
As this summary suggests, Olson uses organic language throughout the book. The church is not a machine, but an organism that requires nutrients ...1