Is it a good thing that denominations are going to become largely irrelevant? Only if the networks that replace them are able to marshal resources, training, and vision to the mission field and into the planting and equipping of churches.Here he kind of loses me again ... because again he offers a thinly-veiled chastisement of the "culturally inappropriate" church. Spencer wants us to become more relevant to the culture. Then, in the next sentence quoted above, derides our pragmatism and shallowness. Which is it, Mr. Spencer? You can't have it both ways. Indeed, I would contend that it is the shallowness and pragmatism of the culture that has infiltrated the church and made it irrelevant!
Is it a good thing that many marginal believers will depart? Possibly, if churches begin and continue the work of renewing serious church membership. We must change the conversation from the maintenance of traditional churches to developing new and culturally appropriate ones.
Will the coming collapse get Evangelicals past the pragmatism and shallowness that has brought about the loss of substance and power? Probably not. The purveyors of the evangelical circus will be in fine form, selling their wares as the promised solution to every church's problems. I expect the landscape of megachurch vacuity to be around for a very long time.
If the collapse comes, I envision the solid core of the church remaining -- a contemporary "remnant" that may retreat into the shadows but will do so with a renewed motivation to "contend for the faith," even if the task seems overwhelming. I see a kind of "engaged monasticism" in our future. History has shown that, from its inception, the church has become strongest when it is under attack.
Perhaps the coming collapse -- no matter how dramatic it actually turns out to be -- will force us to re-evaluate not only that we believe, but why we believe it. Perhaps it will force us to do what the apostle Paul challenged us to do in Romans 12:1-2 -- involve our entire being in the practice of our faith and thereby be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Perhaps then, the church, though smaller, will become the kind of thing it was meant to be in the first place.
And I don't see that as a bad thing at all ... I see it as an opportunity.