I am currently reading a book that I think is incredibly helpful in accessing the current state of things cultural and religious. The Book is entitled: The Missionary Congregation, Leadership & Liminality by Alan Roxburgh. Alan is associated with Allelon which is a north American missional church group who have one of their offices here in Eagle.
The book addresses the current situation and experience of the Church in this late modernity setting, where the sense of being marginalized in our culture is producing a growing anxiety and uncertainty in many denominations, congregations and individuals (kind of like some of us trying to find our way in faith and mission).
The thesis of the work denotes that our experience of feeling marginalized (no longer a central presence or influence in society), is not just a replacement of what is central to our culture but rather is somewhat of a disappearance of “a center” in our society, as modernity passes and transitions into a more postmodern expression of culture.
That places the church in a liminal or transition stage, a stage where all the previous cultural and social identity moorings upon which the church rested have been kind of pulled out from under us and we are in “tunnel” type experience. The natural response to such change is to find a way back into the center, of which none really exists. Additionally tThe losses inherent to such a reality are what causes so much anxiety and are also the experiences that keep us from looking to what new social role is developing for the church in the western world.
The only real challenge to this author is he is somewhat academic in his writing style, but if you can wade through that, what he is offering in the way of perspective is and, I think, will be very helpful for us who are seeking to rediscover what church is and means in our culture.