Eddie Gibbs, ChurchMorph: How Megatrends Are Reshaping Christian Communities (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009). $17.99, 222 pages.
According to Eddie Gibbs, five megatrends are convulsing the Western church. They are the shifts from modernity to postmodernity, from the industrial age to the information age, from Christendom to post-Christendom, from production to consumerism, and from religious identity to spiritual exploration.
The response of Western Christians to these shifts varies. Some are ignorant of the megatrends; some purposefully ignore them. Others, however, are rethinking what it means to be a church in the new Western cultural context. ChurchMorph is a taxonomy and interpretation of their efforts.
Many of these efforts can be described as emergent or missional. Although those terms arose in different contexts—the former from the grassroots, the latter from the academy—they share a goal: to retool the Western Christian church as a missionary force within the West itself.
Gibbs groups these responses into six categories: fresh expressions, megachurches, urban mission, the new monasticism, non-denominational church networks, and alt.worship. For each category, he provides numerous examples of churches in American, Canada, and England that fall (roughly) under the category. He summarizes their varying approaches, explains their rationales, and offers a critique.
Only time will tell whether any of these efforts will retool the Western church and help reverse the decline of Christian faith in the West. But failure to make any adjustments to the West’s new cultural realities is a commitment to missional failure. The church that refuses to morph in some way, as Gibbs puts it, is already becoming moribund.