Michael Duduit's e-newsletter Preaching Today (9-6-05) contained the following review of a new book called Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity. I have not read the book, but I found this interesting and encouraging - and a reminder that churches like ours, with a focus on biblical exposition, should take heart and stay on track.
In his fascinating new book Exodus: Why Americans Are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conserative Christianity (Sentinel), Dave Shiflett paints a portrait of the American church which will be distressing (but familiar) news to leaders in mainline Protestant churches. As he notes, "Americans are vacating progressive pews and flocking to churches that offer more traditional versions of Christianity." After interviews with Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists and others, he diagnoses the situation for progressive clerics:
"Their sermons may be brilliant, and to their minds highly relevant, as they take up the most contentious subjects of the day: war and peace, homosexuality, economic justice, the importance of recycling. Yet they have made a profound miscalculation. Most people don't go to church to learn the minister's opinions on whatever happens to be in the headlines. They can get similar opinions sitting on their sofas watching television, quite possibly presented by someone much better-looking.
"Most people go to church to get something they cannot get elsewhere. The consuming public -- people who already believe, or who want their children to believe -- go to church to learn about the mysterious Truth on which the Christian religion is built. They want the Good News, not the minister's political views or intellectual coaching. The latter creates sprawling vacancies in the pews." (Click here to learn more about the book Exodus.)