It has been said that the Chinese word for “crisis” is formed from two ideograms: one which signifies danger, the other opportunity.
Last summer, we published a research paper entitled, “The Religion SIngularity: The Demographic Crisis Destabilizing and Transforming Institutional Christianity” in the Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society. The article describes an emerging phenomenon, which we have called the Religion Singularity: the runaway growth-by-fragmentation in the numbers of denominations and worship centers at a rate exceeding the growth in the total population of Christians worldwide.
The danger in this crisis is existential. If the long-standing current trend does not change – and it seems unlikely we can fight it – then it will drive down the size of those institutions to unsustainable levels by the end of this century. We may see the end of denominations and worshipping communities as we have known them.
But how do we find the opportunity in this crisis? The answer lies in point of view and preparation. Once we accept that denominations and worship centers will die in their current form, then we can prepare to ride out the change, so that we might survive and thrive in the midst of the current uncertainty into whatever form the resurrected body of Christ might take on the other side. Faith-based communities and organizations will need to find a way to achieve sustainability in the truest sense of the term: choosing to adapt to their changing environment while remaining true to their vision and mission. [Read more…]