There is no end to clichés and easy assumptions about congregational health and vitality. It's much easier to start a new church than turn around an old one; nondenominational churches are growing, while denominational churches are dying; small-membership churches are concerned only with survival; suburban churches care only about endless programming and "spiritual entertainment"; downtown churches are doomed to decay.
Whatever kernel of truth such analyses might contain, they miss the actual point. Churches stagnate, decline, and die for a number of reasons, but principally because they have forgotten who they are. They have forgotten their mission to reach out to those who do not know God in Christ. They have forgotten that we worship--not to feel comfortable and safe--but to come into the presence of a God who leads us out into the world. They have forgotten the "cloud of witnesses" who have gone before us in the Christian faith, providing models for how we can proclaim the message of the gospel in ways that new generations can hear it.
Paul Nixon calls this failure of memory "spiritual amnesia." Concerned with institutional survival and personal comfort, congregations have forgotten what previous generations of Christians have learned time and again: that the church's great challenge is to make the gospel available in new and compelling ways to those who need most to hear it. In a series of sweeping insights into congregational life and contemporary culture, Nixon maps a course that will help churches remember who they are and for whom they exist.
Healing Spiritual Amnesia is an inspiring and practical book to help established congregations discover their capacity for renewal. Paul Nixon knows and loves churches. He offers understandable and congregation-tested guidance for birthing new life in old congregations."
Janice Riggle Huie
Bishop, Arkansas Conference of The United Methodist Church
Here is an exciting antidote for the diminished state of mainline churches. Ease of use, convincing supportive data, personal witness, passionate concern, and experience are all here. You will find yourself saying Amen, but you will also be challenged to put your learnings to work. People who read this book will be helped immensely.Ž
President, Asbury Theological Seminary
Paul Nixon can focus congregational mission like no one else. There is an experience of daring, innovative faithfulness hidden in the soul of every church in America. In Healing Spiritual Amnesia, Paul helps you blow the dust off your church to discover the original spirit that made it great.Ž
Author of Kicking Habits
These are wise insights from a champion of church revitalization. Virtually any established congregation will discover its own image in this book. Clergy and laity seeking new life for their churches will find a candid analysis combined with hopeful direction for the future.Ž
Lovett H. Weems, Jr.,
Distinguished Professor of Church Leadership and Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.
Author of Take the Next Step: Leading Lasting Change in the Church (Abingdon).