In Church Identity and Change (Eerdmans, 2005) Roozen and Nieman offer a study of the major denominations in North America. They conclude that all are struggling to transmit a positive, significant doctrinal identity to their constituents - in other words none of them are doing a good job of discipleship that is theologically grounded in the scriptures.
Add to this David Olson’s groundbreaking The American Church in Crisis (Zondervan 2008). In using a data base of over 200,000 churches, he concludes that overall weekly attendance is not, as previously taught, 43% but closer to 17%!
New church development is far behind population growth and new churches are short-lived for lack of properly trained and persevering leadership. (1)
The time is now for us to strive to renew and expand the church in our day. We must be devoted to transmitting a strong Pentecostal Christian identity which is radically missional.
We must give priority to leadership development and church planting which will make us evermore centered on practical ministry. The church will rise or fall on the work of local churches, which will be led by pastors. Thus, the key person in the future of the church at large is the Pastor.
I predict that strong local churches will become stronger, and weak local churches will become weaker. (2)
(1) Dr. Steven Land, President, Church of God Theological Seminary, The Seminary Story, Spring 2008.
(2) Don G. Brock