While browsing at the Northshire Bookstore I came across The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church by Christine Wicker. If you swing by the book’s Amazon page there is quite a list of endorsers.
I did a pre-read, which means I read the back, inside flap, and table of contents. Hopefully English teachers are still instructing their students in this art. So I can’t say I’ve read the book, but from what I can see at this point, she hits on something that a lot of Evangelicals have probably known: the supposedly strong Evangelical church is rotting a bit on the inside even in the midst of its national profile. Some churches are declining in attendance and numbers appear to be dwindling.
If you’re aware of the emerging, house church, Christians-outside-of-church, missional church, and other rumblings on the edges of Evangelicalism and beyond you’re probably aware that dissatisfaction is quite high in some Evangelical circles. For many this branch of the church is still a breath of fresh air. For some who have been breathing it in for a while, we’re sick of some of it. Not all of it, just parts of it.
And that’s the thing about Evangelicalism: it’s been evolving for years. In fact, the attention that Evangelicalism pays to its surrounding culture is perhaps its greatest asset and the reason why its been around since the early 1700’s (set up in the 1600’s by the pietists on the European continent and our other religious thinkers in Great Britain). Evangelicals have some basic tenets in common, but over time we end up looking rather different at times.
Which brings me to my point. I believe that the incarnation of Evangelicals we have known is on its way out. However this movement will keep on in some form because that is what Evangelicalism as a movement has always done. We’ve been adapting, responding, and reimagining. The heros of our past were the dangerous doctrinal radicals of their times, and so we have thinkers today who push the limits, but are actually setting the stage for the next incarnation of Evangelical Christianity.