Churches and the Crisis of Decline

Churches and the Crisis of Decline : A Hopeful, Practical Ecclesiology for a Secular Age

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Congregations often seek to combat the crisis of decline by using innovation to produce new resources. But leading practical theologian Andrew Root shows that the church's crisis is not in the loss of resources; it's in the loss of life--and that life can only return when we remain open to God's encountering presence.

This new book, related to Root's critically acclaimed Ministry in a Secular Age project, addresses the practical form the church must take in a secular age. Root uses two stories to frame the book: one about a church whose building becomes a pub and the other about Karl Barth. Root argues that Barth should be understood as a pastor with a deep practical theology that can help church leaders today.

This book pushes the church to be a waiting community that recognizes that the only way for it to find life is to stop seeing the church as the star of its own story. Instead of resisting decline, congregations must remain open to divine action. Root offers a rich vision for the church's future that moves away from an obsession with relevance and resources and toward the living God.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20.07mm | 415g
  • Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group
  • Ada, MI, United States
  • English
  • 1540964817
  • 9781540964816
  • 303,161

Back cover copy

"If you are worried about the fate of your church (and who isn't these days?), this is a book you must read."

Andrew Root shows that the church's crisis is not in the loss of resources but in the loss of life, which can return only when we remain open to God's encountering presence.

"Perhaps you've met Barth the intimidating theologian, but have you met Barth the pastor to pastors? Root introduces today's church to the Karl Barth it never knew, artfully putting this theologian in conversation with a church that is fearful about the future. If you are worried about the fate of your church (and who isn't these days?), this is a book you must read."
--Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School; United Methodist bishop, retired; author of Aging: Growing Old in Church

"An engaging and creative work which draws us aside from the church's current crisis to plant us back in it with new vision and hope. I looked up from this book no longer feeling surprised by the crisis and my inability to solve it, no longer ashamed that I need the power of God to lead this church. Root dares us to live and to lead as if God is actually alive and still cares about the world and the church."
--Mandy Smith, pastor, St. Lucia Uniting Church, Brisbane, Australia; author of The Vulnerable Pastor and Unfettered

"A marvelous achievement. Root draws on the work of Karl Barth (the pastor), Charles Taylor, and Hartmut Rosa to identify the current captivity of the church to secular metrics. He proposes a way forward that waits on the hope that comes from outside of us and among us as one of us in Jesus Christ. This is a must-read!"
--Richard R. Topping, Vancouver School of Theology

"This is theology that we need most vitally at this time. It's beautiful, applied, inspiring, kind, practical, deep, stretching, and, if we would only put it into practice, transforming."
--Rev. Canon Chris Russell, Archbishop of Canterbury's Advisor for Evangelism and Witness
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Table of contents

1. When the Church Becomes a Pub, and the Immanent Frame Our Map
2. Brother-Trouble and Meeting the Exorcist's Son: The Beginning of Karl Barth
3. A Funeral for a Church--A Funeral That Remakes a Church
4. An Apple Tree and the Incoherence of "God Is God"
5. The Church Can't Know How to Find God
6. The Church Is Not the Star of Its Own Story
7. Welcome to Crisis Mode
8. Wedding Blunders and Brotherly Love
9. Say Goodbye to Being and Give Me More Busyness
10. A Shady Obituary and the Need to Wait
11. Waiting Sucks but Resonance Is Life
12. Waiting Is Living: The Church and Resonance
13. When Mozart Goes Straight Into You and Through You
14. Pietism and Its Discontents: A Dialectical Escape from Individualism and Religion
15. A True Ghost Story and the Birth of Watchwords
16. Getting Real with a Dialectical Demand
17. Deepening the Dialectic: Avoiding Sledgehammering the Ceiling
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About Andrew Root

Andrew Root (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of numerous books, including Faith Formation in a Secular Age, The Pastor in a Secular Age, The Congregation in a Secular Age, and The End of Youth Ministry? Root is also the coauthor (with Kenda Creasy Dean) of The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry.
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Rating details

34 ratings
4.76 out of 5 stars
5 76% (26)
4 24% (8)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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