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The Late Great Planet Church

So, with so much to choose from, what is driving the great dechurching?

The answer, of course, is “all of the above.”

So what is the way back? There are certainly many things worth pursuing of a practical nature, many of which I outline in my book “Hybrid Church,” written specifically for churches wanting to thrive in a post-Christian, digital age.

But one key dynamic will never change: The church must be the church. And this is what it has to offer the world that the world does not already have: authentic biblical community.

In an opinion piece for Christianity Today, Luke Helm writes of skipping out on church for three years, only to return out of spiritual loneliness. His reasons for the initial departure?

Faith and church have been tough for a lot of people coming out of the pandemic. I’m one of them. The last three years ushered my wife and me through two job changes, a cross-country move, and months spent hunkered inside, trying to keep our young children healthy and ourselves sane. By the time the world began to reopen, so much felt different.

Until recently, I could count on one hand the number of times I’d physically attended a church service since March 2020. I could give many reasons for our absence – a toddler and a newborn, disillusionment with a church tradition that was once home, enjoying a second weekend morning, sheer exhaustion and more.

But if I’m really honest, one reason stands out: The further I get from church, the less Christian faith makes sense to me. The physical drift begets an intellectual one.

So what brought him back? Helm ended his essay by noting that the “strength of togetherness” was what not only drew him back, but what he noticed most about being back in church.

In the 1970s Hal Lindsay wrote a sensationalist book titled “The Late Great Planet Earth,” which detailed how much the day mirrored the end times. He even suggested that everything seemed set to take place by the 1980s and the 1970s was already the era of the antichrist. It was alarmist to say the least. It would be easy today to write “The Late Great Planet Church” on the impending demise of the church.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We can orient ourselves anew to the unchurched and the dechurched in our missional strategy.

We can reach out in new, hybrid ways to this new, hybrid world.

We can renew our thinking about the centrality of the church through a renewed ecclesiology.

And we can flesh out the unity and power of the body of Christ—the “strength of togetherness” that only the church can offer the world.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.