My one-on-one with Ed Stetzer on The Rise and Fall of Movements:
Ed: What’s the story behind The Rise and Fall of Movements?
Steve: I’ve been studying movements for over 30 years. I soon noticed that dynamic movements have certain characteristics. I also noticed that movements don’t stand still. Movements rise and they fall and they can be turned around.
I wanted to write a book that explains the characteristics of movements that multiply and how they change over the course of the typical lifecycle. An understanding of the characteristics and the lifecycle provides a framework for action.
There are many studies of organizations and social movements that identify a typical lifecycle. They prompted me to search the Scriptures and church history to see if I could find the same patterns. I did.
The real challenge was to discover how God was at work at each stage of development and how we contribute to both the rise and fall of movements.
Ed: What is the movement lifecycle, and why is it important?
Here's a graph of the growth in Southern Baptist membership over the last 50 years. Pretty impressive when you compare it to the decline of the mainline Protestants. It's not all good news if you look at the percentages instead of the absolute numbers. It would be even worse if you factored in population increases since 1950.