An interesting article (The Long Tail & Church Planting ) was brought to my attention that both evaluates and critiques the Five Trends for the Future of Church Planting I wrote. Particularly Rick Presley addresses my "pessimism about established churches dying at a faster rate than ever before." I am not so much pessimistic but a believer that churches that do not change/reform to speak to the culture will die. It is because they are not on mission. When I wrote the column, Sheep & Goats, I had the opportunity to visit/speak with dozens of pastors and visit their churches. Quite frankly there are a lot of churches that have lost their heart for mission and hold tightly onto tradition, which will result in their ultimate death. This is the lampstand being put out in Revelation. (If you are a dying church, here are resources to get your church back on mission if you are unwilling I suggest you donate your church building to the furtherance of the gospel.)
Presley argues for the 'long tail' of church planting explaining that their is no one-size fits all approach to church, something he believes both fundamentalists & emergents miss:
The paradigm shift for most of us is to recognize that the choice that is right for us is not necessarily right for everyone. In a culture of unlimited choice, personal preference is rewarded rather than punished. Just because people don’t want to do things our way doesn’t mean they are wrong. Recovering fundamentalists and legalists often have a hard time distinguishing between personal preference and Truth. Sadly, many on the emerging side of the fence don’t catch on to the Long Tail effect any better than the denominations they leave. Much of the carping in the emerging church centers on how “The Church” has messed up and how they are here to rescue it from modernity. For all the lip service they give to a postmodern mindset, often they remain wedded to an either/or mindset.
My heart would to see 'the Church' grow in gospel ecumenism (#1, 2), differ on methods based on their situation/context and mission (#4, 5) and for Christians to rally together to fund more church planters because they see this is (the?) best way to evangelise the lost and reach the diverse culture we live in.
A second critique of the 5 trends article was the death of the preaching pastor in favor of video venues. This portion caught most people's attention as they railed against or for the change. I believe video venue is a method. It is not good or evil. To me there is a danger in this tool that can lead into many of the problems of consumerism, pop-Christianity that is so rampant in America. I suspect those who are attracted to this lean toward pragmatism. I’m just glad I don’t have to make the types of decisions that involve video venues. You can read a long discussion on the video venue conversation @ Reformissionary.com .