Tsunami: Dr. Duane W.H. Arnold PhD

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84 Responses

  1. Papias says:

    Matthew 16:18
    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

  2. Michael says:

    Papias,

    We know the church will not be completely wiped out…but does that mean we ignore warning sirens?

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Indeed, the Church will continue, but some big changes are coming… actually, some of the big changes are already happening.

  4. Babylon's Dread says:

    What we are unwilling to face is how completely the antichrist spirit has taken over education, entertainment, government and the youth culture.

    They simply do not see or hear us and attempts at relevance will not help.

  5. Stephen says:

    This reminds me of an article I read back at school of ministry entitled “your church will die.”

  6. Michael says:

    BD,

    I would assert that the reason they don’t see us is because we are not distinct enough to be recognized…

  7. Xenia says:

    They will be changes for the better, I think. Better for our souls.

  8. Michael says:

    Stephen,

    Churches are dying all over the country…and we actually are having a shortage of clergy in many denoms…

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    BTW, I am writing a follow up piece to this simply to explore the issue of “where we fit” as the Church in this huge change.
    I’ve been sharing some emails with Michael from across the Christian spectrum of people who are already seeing this happen in their own situations. It is not a pretty picture…

  10. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t question what Duane projects, but what did American churches do during the Civil War when funds drained to the war effort 600,000 depleted from the church rolls and the following decades during Reconstruction?
    How about the decade of the Depression followed buy the monetary drain of WWII?

    If the churches then survived, and the churches today will not – the issue is not money.

  11. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    Actually the periods you bring up are interesting. After the Civil War, there was a “depressed” era for churches. During the Depression, however, churches survived and some even thrived. In our current situation, I think we are facing something different. Money (or the lack of it) will be part of the issue, but it is certainly not the whole issue.

  12. Paige says:

    Such doomsaying. For my entire christian walk (46 years), I have heard that main line denominations have been floudering and sounding the deathnell.
    Some churches may be dead or to quote Billy Crystal as Miracle Max…. “mostly dead”…
    God is not dead and the Holy Spirit is working wonders in many circles; ‘other’ circles than those surveyed.. Maybe the shortage of ‘clergy’ has to do with the methodolgy and tired traditions, not with the Calling.

    Come visit Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington or A Jesus Church and Imago Dei and many others here in ‘Sin City”. in Portland, Oregon. You will find a vast multitude of on fire believers in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties and onward.
    Vast. On fire. Skinny jeans and all….well, more lumber jack metro style now.

    Perhaps these souls aren’t churchy enough for the mainline denominations approval or statistics.

    There are Jesus People era-like alter calls every service. Out pouring of the Holy Spirit and crowds of “kids” studying the Bible, showing up for church, going out to missions, signing up for Bible colleges and serving both the church and society, sharing the Faith.

    Remember when the Bible was known as ‘good news”?

  13. Jean says:

    I don’t disagree with what Duane projects, but I disagree with your list of relevant issues:

    “The issues driving this coming demise are not those of sexuality, or liberals versus conservatives, but of age, money, and the lack of younger trained clergy.”

    I am of the mind that the Word of God is efficacious, and that churches that rightly preach Christ crucified and get that message out will thrive. The resources will follow.

  14. Duane Arnold says:

    Paige
    There are certainly exceptions, but we have also started to witness what a friend called “mega-churches becoming mini-churches” with dropping attendance and dropping revenue. We can point to the exceptions, but it does not change the overall landscape.

  15. Xenia says:

    Yesterday was Palm Sunday. My little parish church was so packed you could hardly move. The number of young people greatly outnumbered the older folk, but there were people of all ages. I remember 15 years ago when I first visited this parish there were maybe ten people in the congregation and on one occasion not one person went up to receive Communion. There was talk of shutting down the parish. Yesterday, there was probably 100 people in line for Communion. That means 100 people went to Confession.

    And what did our priest do to bring about this great increase? Special programs? Nope. He just faithfully showed up each Sunday and served the Liturgy and God sent the people.

    God’s Church is thriving. You just need to know where to look.

  16. Duane Arnold says:

    #13 Jean
    I was speaking specifically concerning that particular diocese. We’ve become used to thinking that failure in a church or a group of churches is always about “issues”, but often it can also be about lack of leadership (or absence of leadership), aging populations and the inability to “keep the lights on”.

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia,
    Pleased for you and your church! I can still find thriving churches all over. I can also find larger numbers of churches that are not thriving, many of them because of the issues I’ve tried to enumerate…

  18. Michael says:

    It’s interesting…between Duane and myself we have seen these trends across a number of different churches and denominations.

    I personally know men who are transitioning from what was a mega church to survival mode.

    We could see some major institutions filing bankruptcy and selling off properties in the next five years.

    Statistics, (and the denominations themselves) tell us that we are in uncharted waters.

    Still, we always get lots of pushback when we talk about these issues.

  19. Xenia says:

    Well, what can be done? People will age, there’s no getting around that.

    If young people don’t find the mega church model worth supporting, then let it die a natural death. Christians will always find a place to worship.

    I think the mega church model was a crazy aberration anyway. Let it depart in peace….

  20. Xenia says:

    The world of American Christianity may just be self-correcting after the excesses of the mega church period. Things may be returning the the saner days of yesteryear.

  21. Jean says:

    Michael,

    You have previously written that the UMC is close to apostate. For the UMC and other similar mainlines, should their decline surprise anyone? Shouldn’t apostate and heterodox churches die? My only pushback is that Duane’s list of causes are second order causes, not the root causes.

  22. Michael says:

    Jean,

    The UMC and TEC are in obvious trouble.

    However, in the last couple of weeks I’ve seen articles from your own denomination and Southern Baptists reflecting similar concerns.

    There will be a point where we acknowledge that things have changed…the question in my mind is about how we are going to address what we eventually acknowledge…

  23. em ... again says:

    i’m not thru the comments yet, but must pause to second what BD observed at #4 – young minds are molded and as the piper pipes his seducing tunes they fall in line

    or so it seems to me

    here in Washington State (and i suspect other states with some history) you will see those picturesque little white wooden churches with their sharp steeples topped by a simple white cross (beautiful on a moonlit night) beside rural roads (some now sell sporting goods)… i pray we return to those small and local meeting places where the congregation could put sweat equity into maintaining them… the pastor didn’t even need a microphone, let alone a sound system

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    #18 Michael
    Might I add that this is kind of how we deal with death… It’s always “the other person” until it’s someone we love or it comes knocking at our door.

    #19/20 Xenia
    Yes, there will be some self-correcting going on, but not just in terms of mega-churches. For instance, the UMC build churches in scattered farming communities all over the American midwest. The populations have fallen, aged, etc., but there is still a small worshipping community that cannot support either the building or clergy. So, they are subsidized, and a lay elder or part-time clergy person is assigned. This is a situation can be multiplied literally by thousands across several denominations. Solutions are difficult.

  25. Xenia says:

    But the UMC is largely apostate. Should we be lamenting their decline?

    Genuine Christians will find a place to worship.

    We are seeing a culling of the fluff and the apostate.

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    #21 Jean
    “Shouldn’t apostate and heterodox churches die?”

    Not all in those denominations are apostate or heterodox. There are many fighting the good fight and there are others who would like to leave but have no place to go. In the UMC, for example, they have consistently delayed any vote on same sex marriage, because it would not get past the conservative wing of the denomination. So, it’s a very mixed bag. Nevertheless, whether liberal or conservative, they are both facing the same reality.

  27. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    The number of folks who are becoming genuine Christians is in steep decline.

    The LCMS which is that most faithful of the Lutheran denominations is down over the last 25 years…and doing all sorts of studies to try and find out why.

    We are seeing our young people reject the faith once delivered as it’s being delivered…and that should be worthy of note.

    The EO grew yesterday as Hank Hannegraff was charismated…

  28. Xenia says:

    By golly, you’re right!

    I know he had said some very kind things about Orthodoxy on his radio show recently.

    I wonder if they’ve taken down that dreadful anti-Orthodox article on The Bible Answer Man website.

    Well, this is wonderful news. 🙂

  29. Paige says:

    It all depends on where you are looking.

  30. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    There were pics of it on Facebook…which were quickly removed, but he and his wife were received into Orthodoxy.

  31. em ... again says:

    “We are seeing a culling of the fluff and the apostate” i pray that Xenia is right…
    speaking as a Christian who entered into the Family in 1952 i can tell you that there has always (in my lifetime) been a segment of Believers who just didn’t find all the hustle and hoopla edifying at all… some of it was fun and some of it did, i think, open the doors of distracted minds/hearts to, as the R.C.s like to say, come home…
    and, as i like to say, the Holy Spirit moves and moves on….

  32. Michael says:

    Paige,

    It’s a broad overview of the whole landscape.
    There are exceptions to every rule but the numbers don’t lie.

  33. Steve says:

    I personally feel we are headed in the direction of largely home churches in the United States. Not sure how it would be structured yet, and how they will be united but I think the professing church in the USA is coming to the realization that the church is the people of God and definitely not the building or the pastor alone. I could be wrong but the think the era of mega churches is dwindling. Although this will address some problems, it will probably create an onslaught of other problems.

  34. Josh the Baptist says:

    That’s the Greek Orthodox church in Charlotte I’ve told a story about here once or twice! Cool!

  35. Duane Arnold says:

    #34 Steve
    Two of the people I shared the article with before Michael posted it said the same thing about house churches. They are already flourishing in some places (reminds me of The Vineyard of yesteryear) but they are facing the challenges of scale, outreach, clergy, growth, division, etc.

  36. Xenia says:

    I am going to have to start listening to the Bible Answer Man again. I wonder how long he’ll keep his job at the CRI. I scouted around the web a bit and people from his old tribe are saying he has left Christianity.

    You know, I had forgotten people talk and think like that. Everyone here is so respectful and kind towards me.

  37. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Few people I know represent Christianity as well as you do.

    HH should use you as a role model in his new pilgrimage… 🙂

  38. Josh the Baptist says:

    CRI is Hank though right? If Hank goes, there’s not much left, I think.

  39. Xenia says:

    I just hope he keeps a low profile. There is nothing more off-putting than New Convert Zeal. He’s been low-key so far and I hope he’s able to keep that tone. I head a clip the other day when a caller asked about Orthodoxy and Hank just said it was a genuine Christian Church that preached the Gospel.

    Orthodox converts can be terrible triumphalists. I hope he resists this temptation.

  40. Duane Arnold says:

    #Xenia
    This will warm your heart… https://youtu.be/4ex6hg7_qjg

    In terms of Orthodox converts, Jaroslav Pelikan provides a great template.

  41. Xenia says:

    Jaroslav Pelikan was the Lutheran who knew more about Orthodoxy than anyone else.

    Then he became the Orthodox Christian who knew more about Lutheranism than anyone else.

  42. Xenia says:

    Duane, that clip of Hank’s is the one that started getting people worried.

  43. Duane Arnold says:

    #43 Xenia
    That was Jerry Pelikan… true, true, true…

    On Hank, if he could survive Walter Martin, he’ll make this change just fine…

  44. Charlie says:

    In the Raleigh NC area I know of people who have left church and are meeting in Chick Fila on a weeknight and 2 other home churches, one started by a former Vineyard pastor.

    We are currently visiting a small church that would like to grow only to about 200 people and at that number would plant another church. The pastor believes the church loses being relational if it grows beyond that number.

    I hope this trend continues.

  45. Josh the Baptist says:

    James White‏
    @DrOakley1689

    I will comment on Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy on today’s Dividing Line at 5pm EDT.

    From James White’s twitter. Oh no! King of the flame throwers getting warmed up!

  46. Xenia says:

    #47 That should be interesting. I once found myself in the company of a group of people who were in White’s Sunday School class and these people did not believe I was a Christian.

    Well, I may not be much of a Christian but not for the reasons they gave…

  47. Duane Arnold says:

    #46 Charlie
    How did the small church you are visiting start? Was it a new plant, or an existing congregation?

  48. Jean says:

    I wonder if people would feel confident and comfortable going to house doctors; self-taught doctors who invite people into their houses for treatment of their cancer and heart disease.

  49. Charlie says:

    #49 A plant from a church in CA associated with the Advance Movement.
    I’m not sure how long it has been in existence but they have about 75 people.
    It’s a nice little fellowship.

  50. Jean says:

    Michael,

    You wrote:

    “The LCMS which is that most faithful of the Lutheran denominations is down over the last 25 years…and doing all sorts of studies to try and find out why.”

    They know why: (1) Lutheran families are having less children per family than they used to; and (2) Lutheran Churches are not retaining their youth post-confirmation at the same rates they used to.

  51. Duane Arnold says:

    #50 Jean

    Without getting into the weeds, this is part of what I meant in terms of scale. For instance, we all like Josh the Baptist. Now, let’s say he’s graduated from seminary, presumably with some student debt, and we would like him to become the pastor of our house church. How do we pay his moving expenses, provide him with a salary of some sort so he can feed his family, pay his debts, etc.? We’re back into the same issues of small aging congregations in rural areas.

  52. Duane Arnold says:

    #51 Thanks! I was just wondering…

  53. Michael says:

    Duane @ 53…exactly…and I ought to know. 🙂

  54. Josh the Baptist says:

    “For instance, we all like Josh the Baptist. ”

    Funny, because of who that was addressed to 🙂

    Xenia – I appreciate a lot of what White has done over the years, but I will also be among the group he’ll be surprised to find in Heaven.

  55. Charlie says:

    #50 I would. Then again I know more about my bible than I do heart disease and cancer. 🙂

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    #56 Josh

    Well, I like Josh the Baptist… and after a few discussions on sacramental theology…

  57. Jean says:

    Josh,
    I’ve probably stated that I like you more than anyone else here. I wouldn’t bother with you if I didn’t like you. Again: I like you!

  58. Josh the Baptist says:

    I see the possibility of more bi-vocational pastors or tent-makers, especially in rural areas like mine. This also may be a good correction to get us back to a calling to serve rather than a means to obtain wealth.

  59. Josh the Baptist says:

    Now, that doesn’t change the facts of demographics, birth rates, etc. But in the end, all I can do is invite people to the banquet. I hope they come. God says that some will.

  60. Duane Arnold says:

    #61 Josh

    I agree and the same could be said of difficult urban areas as well. I think we need to see that there is something between the lay leader of a small home church and Joel Osteen! The practical problem remains. How do we finance the academic training of a bi-vocational pastor? How do we keep the lights on in that small rural or urban church? How do we provide for the allocation of time by a bi-vocational pastor in terms of funerals, weddings, counseling, evangelism, continuing education, etc.? We’re going to have to look at varying models of ministry as the demographics change…

  61. em ... again says:

    hmmm… so many here are devotees of Early Church… with access to the internet, we could go back to ‘house’ churches and a few qualified to teach teachers whose electronic letters are read and studied… hmmm

    local and perhaps bi-vocational pastors called “to serve rather than a means to obtain wealth” true and the truth hurts… does the Nazarene church still have bi-vocational pastors? they used to… one owned a local furniture store 🙂

  62. Duane Arnold says:

    #52 Jean

    The losses in LCMS have been occurring for some time. In CTQ of October 1979, Erwin Kolb had the denomination gaining the equivalent of a 700 member congregation each week, while at the same time losing the equivalent of a 1000 member congregation each week. This was while the demographics were still in their favor.

    Your mention of post confirmation retention of younger people is very much a part of what I’ve been trying to communicate.

  63. JD says:

    Dr. Walter R. Martin must be rolling over in his grave. lol

  64. Xenia says:

    Walter Martin’s views on many things have been corrected since his entrance into heaven. He is overjoyed that Hank has become Orthodox. 🙂

  65. Scooter Jones says:

    Had Hank Hanegraff substantiated this photo and claim of his joining the EO?

  66. Siggy the Terrible says:

    “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”

  67. Xenia says:

    A well-knownEO priest, Fr. Thomas Soroka, made the announcement on his FB page. Also, Frederica Mathews-Greene, a very well-known Orthodox author and speaker, was a witness and posted this on FB as well. It’s not a hoax.

  68. Xenia says:

    He’s discussed it directly on the Bible Answer Man today. He recited the Nicene Creed, apparently. I missed it, but that’s what folks are talking about.

  69. Xenia says:

    Here’s a recording of today’s Bible Answer Man, where he talks about his conversion. I haven’t had a chance to listen to this yet.

    http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/bible-answer-man/listen/islamic-terrorism-persecuted-christians-and-qa-590881.html

  70. Xenia says:

    I had a chance to listen to Hank’s program for today.

    It was all Orthodoxy, all the time. Every question was answered with the glories of Orthodox theology, which of course I agree with, but he isn’t going to last out the month if he keeps this up. Local evangelical radio stations are going to drop him like a hot potato.

    But he doesn’t seem to care. He’s exhilarated with his new faith and I can relate. I can’t imagine he will be on very many local evangelical radio stations for long. I hope he isn’t taken up by EO media outlets like Ancient Faith Radio because he hasn’t been Orthodox long enough to know very much, apart from book-learning. I hope he realizes this.

  71. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I think you summarized it all well.
    I hope he has other employment lined up…

  72. Patrick Kyle says:

    We are stressed because the Tower of Babel we have built in the name of Jesus is collapsing. The old ways of easy money, build-it-and-they-will-come church growth schemes,and ecclesiologies built on business models, are dying out. Luther said that the Gospel was like a small rain cloud, pouring first here, then moving elsewhere at irregular intervals and raining down there. One of the things that I think is going to change is this fetish we have for full time ‘Ministry’ and full time Pastors. I really believe God is in control of the Church, and I believe His Word. In repentance we should thank God for this coming visitation and pray for wisdom and perseverance as this particular age/phase of the Church comes to an end, and eagerly anticipate the next phase.

  73. bob1 says:

    Hank will be lucky if he survives the week at CRI — unless their next board meeting is farther away!

    With just a few minutes of search, I found 3 blog pieces about it, one from the inimitable and loveable James White, Pulpit and Pen (who wins the “Judgment Prize”), and “The Evangelical Calvinist”

    https://growrag.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/did-hank-hanegraaff-convert-to-greek-orthodoxy-on-palm-sunday-april-9th-2017/

    http://pulpitandpen.org/2017/04/10/the-bible-answer-man-hank-hanegraaff-leaves-the-christian-faith/

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2017/04/10/hank-hanegraaf-eastern-orthodoxy-david-allens-refutation-insightful-fb-conversation/

  74. Duane Arnold says:

    #74 Patrick

    Yes, we’re going to be forced to look at new models of ministry. Unpacking how that works is the issue. For example, many here at PP value an educated ministry. Now that education can take place in many ways. There are some great people who are self-educated and self-read. There are others, especially younger people who sense a call, who need the teaching and discipline they receive in academia. Firstly, how do we finance such education outside of a denomination? How do we provide the qualified teachers who will do the educating (4 years undergrad, 2-3 years graduate degree, 3-5 years doctoral degree)? How do we make use of pastors who’ve gone to a seminary or Bible College to be trained?

    All of these issues are more and more coming upon us. Numerous theological seminaries have already closed owing to demographic and financial changes. These are questions not only about the shape of ministry in coming years, but the practicalities as well.

  75. Josh the Baptist says:

    James White was fair in his assessment.

    The problem with Hank as far as Bible Answer Man goes is that the program sort of depends on the bible being the sole authority of the faith. Being that Hank no longer believes that, apparently, it will likely be a rough transition.

  76. Randy says:

    A significant part of the problem is that we have replaced theology with sociology. It has become a reflex action that when we are confronted with questions of growth and decline, we turn to sociology instead of theological thinking. Church members have been trained in this culture to think sociologically. What can we do, what kind of program will save us, how can we appeal to this or that social group? The last 40 years demonstrate the failure of this kind of thinking. And I think it is idolatry.

    My denomination is made up of tens of thousands of very small churches. Most of those churches are dying and deserve to die. The cost of operation will close them. The cost of insurance and utilities alone will close them even before you have to pay a pastor. These churches have been taught by our denomination ( SBC) to think about programs that solve all of our problems in our constant search for growth, instead of how to be the church. We constant refuse to put the horse before the cart.

    Church has become inverted. Growth, evangelism, social action, all become the goal of churches. But the biblical purpose is to be a worshipping community that announces the glory of God by our worship and unity and our love to, not just the world, but to the cosmos. Witness, love of neighbor, social influence, proceeds from the church that creates and instructs a worshipping community.

    I don’t think that the church ( speaking of the universal church here) has ever been large. Christendom Has been large but that is not the same thing as the church. Through the last two millennia, Christendom enlarged itself often by force. Certainly by the time of Charlemagne, Christendom was spread by the sword and not by the preaching of the Word. Christendom continued to be spread well into the 20th century by means of social forces instead by biblical means. As a southerner I am all to familiar with these social forces. This story by Langston Hughes illustrates the cultural environment that I was raised in and ultimately cause the collapse of Christendom in the south. http://www.spiritwatch.org/firelangsave.htm

    I have been encouraged by a lot of young pastors who seem to grasp the biblical nature of the church. I hope their tribe increases. But one of the problems I see is the decline and lack of education among some young pastors, who see no need for training. In some ways we are entering another dark ages that hopefully lead to another reformation. But remember how long that took as a historical movement.

    The decline has been going on for 100 years. 40 years ago the average SBC church member was a 55 year old white female. There has been a shortage of clergy since the early part of the 20th century. 40 years ago, in seminary, we were encouraged to become bivocational pastors because of the coming decline. I do not know that there is anything that we can do about the decline. I think it’s the thrashing floor and the church is being sifted. Hopefully in this time the church will rediscover it’s theology.

  77. dusty says:

    good morning everyone! hope you have a wonderful day!

  78. Xenia says:

    James White was more than fair. I was pretty surprised at the mildness of his response.

    Sure, he strongly faults Orthodoxy for not holding to Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, etc.

    But those aren’t bugs, those are features.

  79. Duane Arnold says:

    #78 Randy
    “Witness, love of neighbor, social influence, proceeds from the church that creates and instructs a worshipping community.”

    Very well stated. Indeed, the hope lies in a renewed vision of what it means to be the Church. In my tradition (Anglican) they spoke of the high church revival of the 19th century as “the vision glorious”… may a vision like that come again…

  80. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Good thoughts by Randy.

  81. em ... again says:

    agreeing with all those who are seeing the wisdom laid down in Randy’s #78 … i am wondering if the spread of the gospel by force(s) might not be a part of God’s plan, tho – getting the Word spread, reaching some who otherwise might not have been within hearing distance?
    i think even TBN reached some corners that otherwise would not have been reached … the foolish and the base things?

  82. Darlene says:

    There have always been challenges and opposition to the Church’s existence, and there always will be until the eschaton. Remember the first few centuries of​ the Christian Church – where Christians were being martyred by the thousands? Things looked rather dismal, as though the Church would be killed off and fade into Oblivion. Yet we are here to talk about it. Life goes on and so will the Church until Christ returns.

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