Monthly Archives: May 2024

How Churches Are Navigating These Times With Dr. Mack Dennis PGE 98

This episode is the first of what I hope will be a series of conversations with pastors about how they are leading, guiding, and navigating their churches through current times.

As the Pew Research Center has documented, Christianity in the United States is in decline. Thousands of churches each year are closing. In churches across the nation across the theological and political spectrum, congregations consist of aging members and declining numbers. Sanctuaries are filled to only one fourth to one third of the seating capacity, and much of the entire building space goes unused. The reasons for this decline are complex and comprised of numerous components. We are still in the midst of gaining some understanding and what understanding we have is evolving. Decline is not the only issues churches are facing and some of the other issues are contributors to the decline.

What this series seeks to explore is how churches are navigating these times by listening to the thoughts of pastors as they describe their situations and contexts and what they and their churches are doing. The pastors I am choosing to interview serve historic mainline congregations that have been a part of their communities for over 100 year and the facilities of which are often listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The pastors also began serving their churches prior to, served in the midst of, and are continuing to serve following the Covid Pandemic.

My first guest in this series in my own pastor, The Reverend Dr. Austin McIver Dennis, who is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Asheville, North Carolina. ‘Mack,’ as he prefers to be called, is a native of Henderson, North Carolina. He came to First Baptist, Asheville in 2016. Prior to that, for five years he was pastor of First Baptist Church, Mt. Gilead, North Carolina, then received his Th.D. from Duke Divinity School with a focus on homiletics and reconciliation. He is the editor of The Luminous Word: Biblical Sermons and Homiletical Essays, which is an anthology of sermons and essays by Old Testament scholar, Ellen F. Davis.

The intro and outro music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project.