5.47: Why Are So Many Churches Struggling Today?

Join Dr. Dee Stokes, Dwight Zscheile, and guest Ted A. Smith as they navigate the transition from the Age of Association to the Age of Authenticity

In today’s episode, our co-hosts talk with guest Ted A. Smith, author of “The End of Theological Education,” to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the voluntary association model of the church in the U.S., the cultural shifts taking place, what this means for congregational life and ministry moving forward, and where church leaders can find hope today.

Listen in as we explore a key shift taking place in our culture today and the four pivots you and your faith community can make in order to faithfully respond.

Show Notes:


Ted A. Smith author profile picture

Ted A. Smith

The Rev. Dr. Ted A. Smith works at the intersections of practical and political theology. At Candler, Smith teaches especially in the areas of preaching and ethics. He also serves as director of Theological Education between the Times, a project that gathers diverse groups of people to think together about the meanings and purposes of theological education. With Dr. Joanne Solis-Walker, he is co-principal investigator of Candler’s innovative Pathways for Tomorrow initiatives.

Smith is the author of three books: The End of Theological Education (Eerdmans, 2023), Weird John Brown (Stanford, 2015), and The New Measures (Cambridge, 2007). Together these books try to think theologically about core American Protestant institutions, practices, values, and rhetoric in a time when they are unraveling.

Meet Your Hosts

  • Dwight Zscheile

    Dwight Zscheile is vice president of innovation and professor of congregational mission and leadership at Luther Seminary. His latest book is Leading Faithful Innovation: Following God into a Hopeful Future (with Michael Binder and Tessa Pinkstaff, Fortress Press, 2023).

  • Dr. Dee Stokes

    Dr. Dee Stokes is an entrepreneurial minister, educator, consultant, author, and podcaster. With 30 years of experience in education, Dr. Stokes understands what it means to be co-vocational and serve God in the Church and in the marketplace. She has worked at every level of education and has also served as a Senior Pastor, Formation and Connections Pastor, and Teaching Pastor. She has a passion for God and His Church and to see people walk in divine destiny. Her degrees are in Sociology (BA from UNC Charlotte), Public Administration (MPA from Devry University), Biblical and Theological Foundations (MBTF from Asbury Theological Seminary), and Educational Leadership (Ed.S. & Ed.D. from Liberty University). Dr. Stokes's research interests include Cultural Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Burnout, Transformational Leadership, unconscious bias, and spousal responsibility.

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