I recently had the privilege to read David T. Olson’s book The American Church in Crisis as part of my ministerial studies in pursuit of my Master’s of Divinity. As part of my class’s study of the state of the American Church, I found it quite revealing in that it really fit well into some of the things I had already believed and had been committing to writing about, as it pertains to why people do or do not go to church.
In David Olson’s presentation, much of his research went into looking at the factual data surrounding church attendance and the reality that in America, it is stagnated or in many cases a decline. Part of what he points out is that much like a seed from a plant, there is a sense of decay that should lead to fruitful growth. It’s supposed to be the natural order of life. As such, ministry or growth of the church in America should see such a pattern.
What I found to be interesting about Olson’s research was that it dug deeper into the numbers than George Barna’s research reveals about church growth between the late 1990’s and 2007. He gives a fuller picture of the why’s and how’s. His book goes through observation, evaluation, and introspection about all of the research regarding the growth of decline of it in the American church.
If you have a heart to understand the American Church and where it stands, David T. Olson gives you a vast amount of information to chew on. If your goal is to be a solution to many of the ills of the American Church, this is a great resource to arm yourself. This book isn’t just for pastors or church leaders but it’s for anyone who has a heart for the state of the American Church.