by Jac La Tour
It’s not often you find a book written by a senior pastor with “award-winning journalist” on his résumé. John S. Dickerson, senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Prescott, Arizona, earned the Arizona Newspaper Association’s “Journalist of the Year” award when he was just 24. Then Tom Brokaw named him one of the three best journalists in the nation.
Dickerson’s book doesn’t have a feel-good title, but The Great Evangelical Recession delivers a message that, according to some influential Christian leaders, we would ignore at risk of the church’s peril. From the book’s introduction:
In 2005, New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini warned that home prices were riding a speculative wave that would soon sink the economy. One year later, while home prices were still skyrocketing, he told world finance leaders at the International Monetary Fund that the “United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence, and, ultimately, a deep recession.”
Of course today Roubini looks like a prophet. But in 2005, he was largely ignored. Dickerson says that “the American church stands today in a similar position, on the precipice of a great evangelical recession” that is also being ignored. Warning signs are all over the place, he says, if people are willing to see them:
While we focus on a few large churches and dynamic national leaders, the church’s overall numbers are shrinking. Its primary fuel—donations—is drying up and disappearing. And its political fervor is dividing the movement from within. In addition to these internal crises, the outside host culture is quietly but quickly turning antagonistic and hostile toward evangelicals.
While intensely objective, Dickerson remains hopeful. “Ministries and leaders who adjust course now can prepare to survive the coming decades,” he says, “even thrive in the changing future.”
John Dickerson will join a host of expert presenters at the 2013 edition of the Financial Forum for Ministries, which is being presented in five cities this year by CapinCrouse and ECCU. You can learn more at www.eccu.org/2013forums.