The Rise of the "Dones." Perhaps you've heard of the "rise of the 'Nones,'" those Millennials who are claiming no religious affiliation according to new 2010 census stats. Here is a fascinating article on new research arising out of work with the newly named "Dones," who are those we are now calling "dechurched." Make sure to scroll down a bit through the comments as well, at least up to the point where the author of the article chimes in. Interesting stuff, though a little discouraging at points.
Technology and Rate of Usage in American Congregations. Do not be daunted by the title. I strongly suggest that you download this 12-page PDF. It's loaded with charts and it is not overly wonky and technical. More importantly, it's produced by Scott Thumma, a respected scholar on the dynamics of church growth in the US whom I've appreciated greatly. This article will help you in figuring out where to put attention and time regarding social media, your website, blogging, podcasts, maybe even Yelp reviews.
Making great decisions. I have received a strong recommendation from one of my clients to read Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath, but if you're like me, I've already got a teetering stack of books I need to read, so adding one more freaks me out a teeny bit. However, this much more manageable article, which is an interview between two experts (one of whom authored Switch) on "change management" (who knew?) gave me a TON of things to think about. I especially liked their thoughts on how coming up with at least two alternatives when making a big decision improves your efficacy dramatically.
Starting Missional Churches: Life with God in the Neighborhood by Mark Lau Branson and Nick Warnes. (Full disclosure, I know and love Mark Lau Branson, one of the authors.) So I'm going to contradict myself in the space of a few sentences... On one hand I am saying I have too many books to read, and on the other I'm going to suggest you can't miss this book! I read this a few weeks ago on a short vacation to Yosemite, and frankly could not put it down. It's a perfect combination of theological substance and real-life application. It's warm and engaging to read the several case studies contained within the pages; I enjoyed the many voices that contributed to the conversation in this book. These were pastors I want to get to know and work with. But the meat of this book is sandwiched well at the beginning and end with solid missiological content that motivated and encouraged me. If you do have the bandwidth for one more book, pick this one.
I end with this, a glorious reminder from this morning's reading:
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.