Theologian and church leader Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, in his book Future Faith, has given the world the most lucid insights of 2018 into changes blowing through global Christian faith that are reshaping it.
A tireless ecumenical advocate, Granberg-Michaelson is a key player in the Global Christian Forum and was once touted as a contender as General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.
His work is Ecumenical News' Book of the Year.
It earns this for the wonderfully clear insight it gives into the current state of Christianity in the world and the direction it is heading.
"Global Christianity is at a hinge point in history," he begins the book. Going on an earlier theme of his he says,
"Today, Christianity is undergoing another historical shift. For the first time in one thousand years, a majority of the world's Christians are living in the Global South."
Granberg-Michaelson goes from the global to the local focusing on how U.S. congregations are challenged to change in this "watershed moment in Christian history."
In his book he draws on the stories, examples, and personalities of pastors and congregations from throughout the United States, as well as those from Africa, Asia, and Latin America -- the faces of Christianity's future,
Future Faith is designed to inform and empower followers of Jesus in a rapidly changing world.
The author looks at how historic Protestants are pondering the fate of diminishing congregations on weakening denominational structures and how Catholic officialdom worries about its centralized authority in a world of "radically decentralizing access to information and the access to power."
CHRISTIAN FAITH GROWING RAPIDLY
All this comes amid the irony that the Christian faith continues to grow rapidly and expand.
"The church that will learn to survive and thrive in this future will be the one that includes rather than excludes, that welcomes, rather than warms and that relates rather than regulates," asserts Granberg-Michaelson.
Granberg-Michaelson is the former secretary of the Reformed Church in America, and director of church and society interpret connection points between global Christian trends and the American church.
Sojourners Jim Wallis said Future Faith is an "extraordinary book, noting, "Wesley Granberg-Michaelson offers us ten fundamental ways the global church could help save the American church. Their Christian witness could literally transform the American churches if we were to listen to them."
"Few guides to the future of faith are as trustworthy as Wesley Granberg-Michaelson," writes Diana Butler Bass. "Think of these 10 challenges as an invitation to a more faithful way of being church. Be not afraid. Embrace this moment of transformation."
The book received strong praise from religious leaders.
Fuller Seminary's Richard Mouw said, "This is an inspiring and encouraging book, with wise insights into what we can and must do to remain faithful to God's work of renewal in the world. Future Faith disturbed me as it informed me. But thank God, it also gave me new hope."
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson has served as general secretary of the Reformed Church, director of church and society for the World Council of Churches in Geneva, and as a distinguished visiting scholar at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress.
He is a man who knows church and society.
His extensive portfolio includes serving for eight years on the foreign policy staff of U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield, a Republican from Oregon, and as managing editor of the social justice magazine Sojourners from 1976 to 1980.
Granberg-Michaelson played a behind-the-scenes role in the 1910 merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council into the World Communion of Reformed Churches, a union that represents 80 million Christians from 108 countries, in nearly 230 denominations worldwide.
He also is co-founder of Christian Churches Together, a forum established to foster unity and to witness among evangelical, orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, historic Protestant and ethnic churches.