Diana Butler Bass has this outstanding way of breezily introducing new patterns and stats. In fact, she is so good at describing current realities that sometimes, I think her descriptions actually end up being prescriptive (but that is for another post).
Her outline of anthropologist Anthony F.C. Wallace's "revitalization movement" framework is outstanding:
1. During a crisis of legitimacy individuals cannot 'honestly sustain the common set of religious understandings by which they believe they should act.' People wonder if they are the only ones who see the problems and experience the frustrations of the old ways. Thus, they begin to question conventional doctrines, practices, and their sense of identity.
2. People then experience cultural distortion, during which they conclude that their problems are not the result of personal failings, but rather 'institutional malfunction,' as they seek ways to change these structures or reject them.
3. Significant individuals or communities then begin to articulate a new vision, new understandings of human nature, God, spiritual practices, ethical commitments, and hope for the future. New possibilities begin to coalesce that make more sense in the light of new experiences than did the old ones.
4. As a new vision unfolds, small groups of people who understand the necessity for change begin to follow a new path; they experiment, create, and innovate with religious, political, economic, and family structures in a search for a new way of life. They develop new practices to give life meaning and make the world different. They embody the new vision and invite others to do so as well.
5. Institutional transformation occurs when the innovators manage to 'win over that large group of undecided folks' who finally 'see the relevance' of the new path and embrace new practices. When the undecideds 'flip,' institutional change can finally take place. (Christianity After Religion, 33-34)
Butler adds, "Given the limitations of any such pattern of human experience, Wallace's stages and McLoughlin's use of them can be very helpful. When many people feel lost, this can be a simple and empowering orienting device."
Absolutely. Butler uses the framework as the basis for her book.
Organizations and churches would be well served to print out this framework, then talk it through in worship, council meetings, and so on, in order to get a sense of "where we are" and so howe are are moving.