James Brettell on Trends in American Christianity
Date: April 4th, 2011

Every now and then on Research on Religion, we like to go beyond the bounds of academia and talk to folks who work in the trenches of our religious landscape.  Pastor James Brettell, currently the host of a daily live radio show and founder of the Little Rock NetChurch, lives up to expectations as one of the most interesting guests we’ve had on the program to date.  His biography alone is enough to inspire; born and raised in rural town of Mingo Junction, Ohio, Jim has worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, played professional baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, served as a Navy hospital corpsman in the Caribbean during the Cuban Revolution and Missile Crisis, attended numerous colleges, pastored at several churches and now in his 8th decade has taken up the mission of running a daily radio program and internet-based ministry.  This wide array of experience gives Pastor Jim a unique perspective on Christianity in America.  Critical of what he calls the “traditional church” — a church that is too bogged down in “religion,” worried about preserving denominational organization, and not engaged in spreading the Word of God — he offers some explanations for why America has reached this point and what can be done to re-ignite the faith in God’s Word.  Our conversation runs the gamut from historical topics such as the Great Awakening and the evangelical theology of John Darby to more contemporary topics such as the future of megachurches, the role of seminaries, and ways to use modern technology to bolster spirituality among traditional churchgoers.  Near the end of the podcast we debate whether the Internet can really serve bring people closer to the faith, and Pastor Jim offers a nuanced response.  This interview was a joy to conduct and will surely be both a challenge and inspiration for many of our listeners.  Recorded: March 15, 2011.


James Brettell Bible Ministries (Pastor Jim’s central website for links to his other endeavors).

The Little Rock NetChurch.

The Dr. Jim Talk Show (live audio feed and archives of his past shows).


Gordon Melton on Mega-Trends in American Religion.

Marc von der Ruhr on Megachurch Recruitment and Retention.

James Wellman on Evangelical vs. Liberal Christians.


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