Reorganized Religion: The Reshaping of the American Church and Why It Matters
"A superb examination of the future of Christian institutions.... A must-read for anyone invested in the fate of the American church." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)Uncover the ways the Christian church has changed in recent years--from the decline of the mainline denominations to the mega-churchification of American culture to the rise of the Nones and Exvaneglicals--and a hopeful reimagining of what the church might look like going forward. The United States is in the middle of an unprecedented spiritual, technological, demographic, political and social transformation-- moving from an older, mostly white, mostly Protestant, religion-friendly society to a younger diverse, multiethnic, pluralistic culture, where no one faith group will have the advantage. At the same time, millions of Americans are abandoning organized religion altogether in favor of disorganized disbelief. Reorganized Religion is an in-depth and critical look at why people are leaving American churches and what we lose as a society as it continues. But it also accepts the dismantling of what has come before and try to help readers reinvent the path forward. This book looks at the future of organized religion in America and outline the options facing churches and other faith groups. Will they retreat? Will they become irrelevant? Or will they find a new path forward? Written by veteran religion reporter Bob Smietana, Reorganized Religion is a journalistic look at the state of the American church and its future. It draws on polling data, interviews with experts, and reporting on how faith communities old and new are coping with the changing religious landscape, along with personal stories about how faith is lived in everyday life. It also profiles faith communities and leaders who are finding interesting ways to reimagine what church might look like in the future and discuss various ways we can reinvent this organization so it survives and thrives. The book also reflects the hope that perhaps people of faith can learn to become, if not friends with the larger culture, then at least better neighbors.
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About the Author
Bob Smietana is an award-winning reporter and Pulitzer grantee who has become one of the most respected and well-known religion reporters in the country, with more than two decades experience in covering religion, spirituality, and ethics. He has served as a senior writer for Facts & Trends, senior editor of Christianity Today, and the religion writer at The Tennessean. He is currently a national reporter for Religion News Service, where his wire service stories -- which attract wide readership from lay people, pastors and scholars -- have appeared in both secular and religious publications, such at the Washington Post, USA Today, Christianity Today, and the Associated Press.His reporting on a small Episcopal church saved by refugees inspired the 2017 Affirm Films feature "All Saints," while his reporting on young serpent handlers inspired the 2013 National Geographic television series Snake Salvation. In April 2021, his reporting on Beth Moore's breakup with the Southern Baptists was a top story at Christianity Today and the second most read story at the Washington Post. On the day it was published, it was cited on the front page of the New York Times and prompted a national conversation about women in the Southern Baptist Convention. Bob has also reported on the troubles of Christian finance guru Dave Ramsey, the challenges facing megachurches like Willow Creek, end-times cat worshippers, and even a Nashville cult funded by "How Great is Our God," one of the five most popular worship songs in the country, which attracted millions of page views and readers.