Friday, March 27, 2009

The coming evangelical collapse

I thought this was a very thought-provoking article from The Christian Science Monitor, which by the was is not related to Christan Science at all.

Oneida, Ky. - We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

Why is this going to happen?

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

7. The money will dry up.

What will be left?

•Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.

•Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the "conversion" of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

•A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal. This is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development. Nonetheless, I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches.

•The emerging church will largely vanish from the evangelical landscape, becoming part of the small segment of progressive mainline Protestants that remain true to the liberal vision.

•Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches will begin to disappear.

•Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Can this community withstand heresy, relativism, and confusion? To do so, it must make a priority of biblical authority, responsible leadership, and a reemergence of orthodoxy.

•Evangelicalism needs a "rescue mission" from the world Christian community. It is time for missionaries to come to America from Asia and Africa. Will they come? Will they be able to bring to our culture a more vital form of Christianity?

•Expect a fragmented response to the culture war. Some Evangelicals will work to create their own countercultures, rather than try to change the culture at large. Some will continue to see conservatism and Christianity through one lens and will engage the culture war much as before – a status quo the media will be all too happy to perpetuate. A significant number, however, may give up political engagement for a discipleship of deeper impact.

Is all of this a bad thing?

Evangelicalism doesn't need a bailout. Much of it needs a funeral. But what about what remains?

Is it a good thing that denominations are going to become largely irrelevant? Only if the networks that replace them are able to marshal resources, training, and vision to the mission field and into the planting and equipping of churches.

Is it a good thing that many marginal believers will depart? Possibly, if churches begin and continue the work of renewing serious church membership. We must change the conversation from the maintenance of traditional churches to developing new and culturally appropriate ones.

The ascendency of Charismatic-Pentecostal-influenced worship around the world can be a major positive for the evangelical movement if reformation can reach those churches and if it is joined with the calling, training, and mentoring of leaders. If American churches come under more of the influence of the movement of the Holy Spirit in Africa and Asia, this will be a good thing.

Will the evangelicalizing of Catholic and Orthodox communions be a good development? One can hope for greater unity and appreciation, but the history of these developments seems to be much more about a renewed vigor to "evangelize" Protestantism in the name of unity.

Will the coming collapse get Evangelicals past the pragmatism and shallowness that has brought about the loss of substance and power? Probably not. The purveyors of the evangelical circus will be in fine form, selling their wares as the promised solution to every church's problems. I expect the landscape of megachurch vacuity to be around for a very long time.

Will it shake lose the prosperity Gospel from its parasitical place on the evangelical body of Christ? Evidence from similar periods is not encouraging. American Christians seldom seem to be able to separate their theology from an overall idea of personal affluence and success.

The loss of their political clout may impel many Evangelicals to reconsider the wisdom of trying to create a "godly society." That doesn't mean they'll focus solely on saving souls, but the increasing concern will be how to keep secularism out of church, not stop it altogether. The integrity of the church as a countercultural movement with a message of "empire subversion" will increasingly replace a message of cultural and political entitlement.

Despite all of these challenges, it is impossible not to be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, "Christianity loves a crumbling empire."

We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.

We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture.

I'm not a prophet. My view of evangelicalism is not authoritative or infallible. I am certainly wrong in some of these predictions. But is there anyone who is observing evangelicalism in these times who does not sense that the future of our movement holds many dangers and much potential?

• Michael Spencer is a writer and communicator living and working in a Christian community in Kentucky. He describes himself as "a postevangelical reformation Christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality."

Feel free to leave any comments, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

hero's in a half shell

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trent Reznor and the Music industry.

For those of you that know me, you know that i'm a HUGE Nine Inch Nails fan, and that I have the utmost respect for Trent Reznor. He has done more for music and the music industry then most people know. below is a repost from an article he posted on his website.

As we approach on-sale dates for the upcoming tour, I've noticed lots of you are curious / concerned / outraged at the plethora of tickets that somehow appear on all these reseller sites at inflated prices - even before the pre-sale dates. I'll do my best to explain the situation as I see it, as well as clarify my organization's stance in the matter.

NIN decides to tour this summer. We arrive at the conclusion outdoor amphitheaters are the right venue for this outing, for a variety of reasons we've throughly considered*. In the past, NIN would sell the shows in each market to local promoters, who then "buy" the show from us to sell to you. Live Nation happens to own all the amphitheaters and bought most of the local promoters - so if you want to play those venues, you're being promoted by Live Nation. Live Nation has had an exclusive deal with TicketMaster that has just expired, so Live Nation launched their own ticketing service. Most of the dates on this tour are through Live Nation, some are through TicketMaster - this is determined by the promoter (Live Nation), not us.
Now we get into the issue of secondary markets for tickets, which is the hot issue here. The ticketing marketplace for rock concerts shows a real lack of sophistication, meaning this: the true market value of some tickets for some concerts is much higher than what the act wants to be perceived as charging. For example, there are some people who would be willing to pay $1,000 and up to be in the best seats for various shows, but MOST acts in the rock / pop world don't want to come off as greedy pricks asking that much, even though the market says its value is that high. The acts know this, the venue knows this, the promoters know this, the ticketing company knows this and the scalpers really know this. So...

The venue, the promoter, the ticketing agency and often the artist camp (artist, management and agent) take tickets from the pool of available seats and feed them directly to the re-seller (which from this point on will be referred to by their true name: SCALPER). I am not saying every one of the above entities all do this, nor am I saying they do it for all shows but this is a very common practice that happens more often than not. There is money to be made and they feel they should participate in it. There are a number of scams they employ to pull this off which is beyond the scope of this note. is an example of a re-seller / scalper. So is

Here's the rub: TicketMaster has essentially been a monopoly for many years - certainly up until Live Nation's exclusive deal ran out. They could have (and can right now) stop the secondary market dead in its tracks by doing the following: limit the amount of sales per customer, print names on the tickets and require ID / ticket matches at the venue. We know this works because we do it for our pre-sales. Why don't THEY do it? It's obvious - they make a lot of money fueling the secondary market. TicketMaster even bought a re-seller site and often bounces you over to that site to buy tickets (!

NIN gets 10% of the available seats for our own pre-sale. We won a tough (and I mean TOUGH) battle to get the best seats. We require you to sign up at our site (for free) to get tickets. We limit the amount you can buy, we print your name on the tickets and we have our own person let you in a separate entrance where we check your ID to match the ticket. We charge you a surcharge that has been less than TicketMaster's or Live Nation's in all cases so far to pay for the costs of doing this - it's not a profit center for us. We have essentially stopped scalping by doing these things - because we want true fans to be able to get great seats and not get ripped off by these parasites.

I assure you nobody in the NIN camp supplies or supports the practice of supplying tickets to these re-sellers because it's not something we morally feel is the right thing to do. We are leaving money on the table here but it's not always about money.
Being completely honest, it IS something I've had to consider. If people are willing to pay a lot of money to sit up front AND ARE GOING TO ANYWAY thanks to the rigged system, why let that money go into the hands of the scalpers? I'm the one busting my ass up there every night. The conclusion really came down to it not feeling like the right thing to do - simple as that.

My guess as to what will eventually happen if / when Live Nation and TicketMaster merges is that they'll move to an auction or market-based pricing scheme - which will simply mean it will cost a lot more to get a good seat for a hot show. They will simply BECOME the scalper, eliminating them from the mix.

Nothing's going to change until the ticketing entity gets serious about stopping the problem - which of course they don't see as a problem. The ultimate way to hurt scalpers is to not support them. Leave them holding the merchandise. Don't buy from scalpers, and be suspect of artists singing the praises of the Live Nation / TicketMaster merger. What's in it for them?

* I fully realize by playing those venues we are getting into bed with all these guys. I've learned to choose my fights and at this point in time it would be logistically too difficult to attempt to circumvent the venues / promoter / ticketing infrastructure already in place for this type of tour. For those of you about to snipe "it's your fault for playing there, etc... " - I know it is.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just because it is old, doesn’t make it good.

Over the past couple of weeks I have sent out several tweets ( Lewis ) about my disliking of C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and in doing so have been scolded about the fact that I should bite my tongue when ripping into a book deemed a “classic” and “staple” of the Christian faith. Well below is my response to that. No low blows, no animosity, just my humble opinion.

C.S. Lewis is known as one of the most honored and well respected authors and Christian writers of all time, and to a degree I agree with that. Books like “The Screwtape Letters” and the Chronicles of Narnia books series are both well known and widely regarded (I personally love the former)

That being said I STRUGGLED to finish “Mere Christianity.” Mere Christianity is one of if not his most well known books on the Christian faith. The book begins from the perspective of someone who is not of the faith or who I’ll be referring to as normal people, and states that all people or born with a sense of right and wrong and that this inherent law of nature is given to everyone by God. He then supposes that once we become aware of this fact then we are then given the choice to join or turn away from God, and that it is our choice but that God will influence this decision as he wants to draw us into his family.

There are several things that I did like in this book, such as what he believes is Man interpretation of God, he mentions how men will try to find happiness in anything outside of God until they have nothing left but God. He also explains at length the basics of the Christian faith and what most Christians believe. He also makes a lot of valid points so that if one was new to the faith or was interested in learning about it, they would have a lot to take away from it.

That being said this book is LONG! And I don’t mean long in the sense of word count (my copy was a only 225 pages) no the book is long in the sense that Lewis takes four pages to write what someone else could say in two paragraphs. He takes long drawn out examples to explain analogies that are so daunting that by the time you get done reading them, you want to take a nap.

The second big gripe I had with the book was the fact that he spends the better part of 30 pages speaking on something he has no basis for offering his input. Let me paraphrase, “I’ve never been married, but for the next two chapters I’m going to tell you what’s best for your marriage.” he even states something to this effect in the begin of the chapter. If you’ve never been married, don’t tell me how I should be married.

My biggest concern with this book is the lack of biblical context and example. As I mentioned above in the chapter about christian marriage he states thing that go directly against the bible, which is THE source of christian doctrine. Below is one such example that goes against everything I have learned about what Christ taught.

“If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchasitiy is not improved by adding perjury.”

WOW WOW WOW, why the heck did I even get married in the first place then ole C.S.!!! I could have just shacked up with Megan and ruled the roost without ever having to worry about the consequences. What bible is this guy reading!?!?!

He also states things like “it’s ok to like some people and not others, that’s human nature” FALSE! as followers of Christ we are to show love and compassion to everyone, especially those may require a little extra grace. Also at the end of the book he basically endorses evolution and states that all humans will eventually evolve to follow after God.

Oh, and I wont even get into the part about aliens.

The final complaint I have is this: lack of scripture. When you presenting an argument for a faith based upon Gods love and what he has done for us, as he shows us through scripture, point that out. After all he did leave us instructions. Hardly at all through the book is the Bible quoted and when it is there is no reference or citation given. If you want to point people to Christ, there are a few examples you can give them. One of the most important ones being the Bible. Without the Bible the Christian faith lacks authenticity and validation, use it Lewis, use it.

All this being said I still think the book is important and that it could bring about a lot of discussion amongst people. I understand that this book has helped a lot of people with their faith, I just think that there are better books out there that can accomplish the same thing a lot more thoroughly and more accurately. If you’ve read the book or would like to share your opinion, please do so, I would love to see a dialogue opened due to this post.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Words fail me.