Ok, today I'm spending some quality time at a Caribou's coffee in Atlanta. With my dusty history books and my laptop all around me, I'm writing an essay on the rise of mega-churches, church growth theory, missional churches, emerging churches, justice ministries, and the changing face of Christianity in the US since the 1960s. In 2007 I was invited to participate in a interdenominational history writing project on the history of the Christian Church. Several years later, it's time to finish up my essays. I have to turn in my essays in a few days.
I'm particularly fascinated with the fact that more and more churches are seeking to address the physical needs and hurts in their community. Both liberal and conservative churches are now interested in helping their community (that's a big change since the 1960s), even if they come at the problem from different perspectives.
When you write on church history your challenge is not just to explain a particular chapter of the past, but to give your reader a sense of how the people during that time thought, lived, prayed, and dreamed. It's a big order for short essay. You have to pick the trends and people that best symbolize an era.
This particular project is a challenge because I'm addressing the "contemporary past"--the 1960s to the present. To a certain degree you have to wear the hat of a futurist, predicting what the biggest trends are today that will shape the future.