5 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2019

church trends

As everything seems to change around us more quickly than ever, what trends should church leaders pay attention to in 2019?

For the last three years, I’ve kicked off the new year with a post on disruptive church trends. You might still find those helpful. Even though some of them are a few years old, they all deal with cultural shifts that are still happening.

Here are the direct links:

7 Disruptive Church Trends for 2018

6 Disruptive Church Trends for 2017

5 Disruptive Church Trends for 2016

The reason this matters so much is two-fold.

First, there’s no shortage of information in our culture. But there is a shortage of meaning. It’s one thing to know something is happening, it’s another to know what to do with it and which trends matter most.

There's no shortage of information in our culture. But there is a shortage of meaning. Click To Tweet

Second, leaders who fail to navigate the disruptive trends happening in our culture won’t be left with much to lead.

Leaders who pretend nothing needs to change end up being the blacksmith in the era of the automobile, Sears in the age of Amazon, or Kodak in an Instagram culture.

If you ever hope to reach the next generation, change is your friend.

So, in the hopes of helping every leader better accomplish our collective mission, here are 5 disruptive church trends I see defining conversation and action in 2019.

Leaders who fail to navigate the disruptive trends happening in our culture won't be left with much to lead. If you ever hope to reach the next generation, change is your friend. Click To Tweet

1. Charismatic Expressions of Church Will Grow While Attractional Churches Will Continue To Stall Out

Over the last few years one trend has emerged that hasn’t been talked about nearly enough: almost all the growth happening in churches seems to be coming from churches that have a more charismatic expression to their worship, preaching and culture.

I’m not talking about charismatic theology here, although some churches would definitely fit that bill. What seems to link most growing churches these days is a more charismatic or expressive style to how they worship, teach and gather.

A few characteristics synthesize this trend:

Worship that’s actually worship, not just a band performing music in front of a passive audience.

Preachers who speak to the heart as much as they speak to the head.

Communicators who preach as much as they teach.

A congregation (large or small) that actually engages each other and the mission (not just people who randomly assemble).

Facilitating moments of transcendence, not just immanence.

In other words, it’s personal. It’s more emotional. It’s more real. And you can feel it.

I realize that you can poke holes in my theology or definition of this. That’s not the point. I have the privilege of speaking all over the world and connecting with thousands of leaders each year. This is just something I’m seeing.

It’s loose, it’s not particularly well-defined, but it is happening.

What seems to link most growing churches these days is a more charismatic or expressive style to how they worship, teach and gather. Click To Tweet

Meanwhile, I see churches that cling to a purely attractional model struggling more and more. By attractional I mean:

Their bands perform more than they lead people in an experience of worship.

Communicators who speak more to the head, not the heart, and teach more than they preach.

A congregation of less engaged people who seem to randomly assemble to experience an event, rather than to connect (this is true regardless of how large or small the church is).

A greater focus on immanence without much thought to transcendence.

Why is this? I outline 5 reasons in this post and you can read the background there.

As we watch this develop, at least from where I sit, there are two cultural shifts happening that are driving this change.

First, as I outlined in the post, the foyer moved. The genius of the attractional church was to make someone’s first encounter with church accessible. That’s still super important (don’t lose sight of that, please), but the internet means that almost everyone who attends church has watched online first. And even if you don’t have an online stream, they’ve checked out someone else’s or Googled their way through some questions.

This means when they show up, they are ready to go a little deeper a little faster. Not please enroll me in seminary deep…but show me the real thing because I want to know if this is real kind of deep.

Almost everyone who attends your church for the first time has already been to your church…online. All of which means, the foyer moved. Click To Tweet

Second, I’m sensing younger adults are deeply craving connection and transcendence. In a world that feels like a cacophony of noise and anger, and in a day where they have anything they want whenever they want at their fingertips, young adults are looking for something (SomeOne) beyond themselves…an experience that can’t be reduced, fully explained and isn’t even fully definable.

Which is, of course, part of the character of God. He’s so much bigger than us. The mission is bigger than us. And it’s all bigger than our words can explain.

One further thought on this trend. Total anecdotal observation. But I noticed via Instagram that people seemed to put up their Christmas trees much earlier in 2018. As in late-October and early-November early. As I drilled down a little further, guess what I noticed? Almost every doing this was 35 and under.

Complete conjecture, but here’s what I’m guessing. In a world that seems increasingly unsafe and unsound, for young adults, the Christmas tree, lights and decor are reminders of wonder, peace, and stability. Whether that’s nostalgia, a bold declaration or a bit of both, wise leaders would think about how to make their church a little more like that. Because of course, if the church can’t offer wonder, peace and stability in uncertain times, who can?

Either way…there is massive opportunity to connect with a culture that deeply wants connection…something other than the hopelessness that seems to be today’s news cycle.

Final word…all of this is a great opportunity for churches that currently do attractional really well. This is not about suddenly becoming inaccessible or completely different. A shift in tone, expression and focus can recalibrate the experience for everyone.

Weird isn’t the goal. Connection is.

As churches become more expressive in their style and worship, weird isn't the goal. Connection is. Click To Tweet

2. Online Church Will Evolve To Become A Front Door and Side Door, Not A Back Door

There’s an ongoing debate about how much church you can do ‘online’.

Laura Turner wrote a helpful piece recently for the New York Times in which she argued that online church isn’t the same as in-person church. Laura cited this blog and we had a short but great chat via email about her piece. Largely, I agree with Laura and as a local church leader, I really appreciate her viewpoint.

I think what can be missing from the discussion about the online church is that too often our conversation is binary. Church online is good or bad. Wise or dumb. A cop-out or great.

Here’s what I think the future holds for online church. In the near future, online church will become almost exclusively a front door and side door, not a back door.

In the early days of online church, the internet functioned as a back door. Consumer-oriented, disengaged or lazy Christians headed for the back door and traded the drive and the traffic for the comfort of a warm bed or the convenience of a treadmill or commute. If your primary disposition toward church was to consume content, online just gave you a far easier way.

But those Christians are an endangered species. We’re a decade+ into church online and they’ve drifted off into the background, and honestly for the most part, into Kingdom-irrelevance. You can’t change the world if your only connection with the Kingdom is through your earbuds.

That group has become consumers, not contributors. And you can’t build the future of the church on them. Mission requires engagement movement. So the back door people are history.

Ditto with the casual observers who consume and never contribute. There’s no future there, so move along, people.

You can't change the world if your only connection with the Kingdom is through your earbuds. Mission requires engagement and movement. Click To Tweet

The future of church online is not with the internet as a back door. The future of the church is the internet as a front door and side door.

Church online will become a front door for the curious, the skeptic and the interested. It will be the first stop for almost everyone, and a temporary resting place for people who are a little too afraid to jump in until they muster the courage to jump in through physical attendance.

What we’re seeing at Connexus where I serve is that almost everyone who attends for the first time has engaged online for weeks, months or upward of a year. They see online as the new front door, which it is.

It’s also a side door to Christians who travel or who can’t be there on a given Sunday. In that respect, it boosts engagement because it keeps people connected. They never miss a Sunday or a moment because of the seamless slip between digital and analog that our lives have become (I write more about that here).

But wait, you say…what if they don’t come back as much in person? Well, then that’s not a side door or front door issue, that’s a consumer who’s using online as a back door, and as we’ve already seen, there’s no future in that.

I’ll write more about this issue later this month, but in the meantime, think about how you can position your church to see the internet as a front door for new people and a side door for engaged members. Forget the back door. It’s irrelevant.

In the future, online church will become almost exclusively a front door and side door, not a back door. Click To Tweet

3. Churches and Organizations Will Begin Staffing Online like It was a Real Thing

Although for the reasons outlined above, most churches are beginning to realize that online church is a very real thing, unless you’re a very large, multi-site megachurch, you probably don’t staff your church as though it is.

Until now, most churches (even churches over 1000) cultivate their online presence by tacking it onto the job description of someone in the creative department. As in Here, you go run social, please. And oh, can you get these sermons uploaded? And then once every five years, the church allocates X number of dollars to hire someone to redo their website hoping that will fix the problem for another half-decade.

The problem? The vast majority of churches spend 99% of their staffing dollars on in-person gatherings.

Increasingly, this will be the year many churches realize you can’t have a massive impact online when you spend 1% of your staffing resources on it.

So why does this matter?

Well, as outlined in trends #1 and #2 above, the internet is the venue in which the entire community you are trying to reach lives. If you want to reach them there, spending 1% of your resources on it is likely not the smartest strategy.

I know this is about as basic as it gets but look around you. Do you know of any church near you that’s spending 30% of its resources to reach people online?

Didn’t think so.

And we wonder why we don’t see more direct results from online outreach.

Mystery solved.

You can't have a massive impact online when you spend 1% of your staffing resources on it. Click To Tweet

4. Consumer-Centered Approaches To Church Will Continue to Lose Momentum

A lot of church growth from the 80s to a few years ago was fuelled by churches who embraced that fact that we live in a consumer culture.

While that approach has always had its critics, it actually did result in a great number of people who authentically followed Jesus and churches that experienced explosive growth.

But things have changed and that era is coming to an end.

Ultimately, consumer Christianity isn’t about what you bring to the mission, it’s about what you can squeeze out of it.

Consumer Christianity isn't about what you bring to the mission, it's about what you can squeeze out of it. Click To Tweet

The digital explosion of the last decade has meant people feel more marketed-to than ever before. Which also people are seeking an alternative (see trend #1 above).

Churches who use the approach of “come to us…we’re the best/coolest/hippest/most orthodox/most whatever” won’t have enough of a basis to hold people together in an era where content can be consumed anywhere/anyhow/anywhere.

It’s far easier to consume content on a treadmill or on your commute than it is to drive to a place at a set time and sit in a back row and consume.

As a result, many consumer-oriented Christians won’t commit to anything, and the remaining few will leave. It’s just more convenient to do whatever you feel like from wherever you are than it is to gather or commit to a cause that’s bigger than you.

Not much is lost in seeing consumers leave. It’s hard to build the future of the church on people who won’t engage. So let them go.

Not much is lost in seeing consumers leave. It's hard to build the future of the church on people who won't engage. Click To Tweet

5. You Will No Longer Be Able to Get Away With a Bad Workplace Culture

In many ways, 2017 and 2018 raised both the awareness of abusive workplaces and leaders and (helpfully) increased our unwillingness to work in toxic environments or for toxic people.

This is good…and needed.

While sexual safety, dignity and integrity at work are a given, the bad culture problem runs deeper than just sex.

Too many church leaders who lead people in the name of God create a team culture that feels nothing like the Kingdom of God—arrogant leadership, selfish manipulation, office politics, gossip and deceptive manoeuvring have killed far more cultures and harmed more people than you can count. All of this has left a body count of people who say they’re not done with God, but they’re done with church (I wrote a response to that here.)

Don’t believe the cynics. This is not every Christian workplace. But it is some. And some is too many.

And, again, for the cynically minded, this is not just a church problem. It’s a human problem.

Step out of the church world for ten minutes and jump into any corporate (or not-for-profit) culture and it won’t take you too long to find similar problems replicated there. We human beings are desperately in need of redemption, and we all lead from a place of sin and wounding. There are really no exceptions to that.

But that doesn’t mean our culture has to stink. Our God is a God of redemption, and ultimately our churches and organizations should reflect our collective strengths more than they reflect our weaknesses.

Too many church leaders who lead people in the name of God create a team culture that feels nothing like the Kingdom of God. Click To Tweet

The necessity for healthier workplaces was voiced over a decade ago as Millennials left college and stepped into the workplace. They let us know quickly and loudly that they weren’t going to put up with the misery that previous generations put up with.

Whether they’re on your payroll, volunteering or working as independent contractors, Millennials have made it known that ultimately they work for themselves, not you. And—heads up bosses—they want to work for a cause that’s bigger than you or the bottom line.

Finally, the way you treat them may be more important than what you pay them. These days, no salary is big enough to compensate for making you feel miserable. (Here are 7 keys to leading and working with Millennials.)

The way you treat people may be more important than what you pay them. No salary is big enough to compensate for making you feel miserable. Click To Tweet

None of this is bad at all. Actually, it’s refreshing.

It’s a whole new day out there when it comes to workplace and team culture, and that’s a good thing.

Cultural values will become more important than ever in 2019. And living by the values you espouse will become even more important than having values. What’s on the wall has to live down the hall.

Integrity and authenticity are two of the most important characteristics any leader can possess, especially in the current culture. These are two things Christians should have been modeling all along.

Your culture is quickly becoming the main way you attract and keep the best people—staff or volunteers.

Great cultures will keep great people. Toxic cultures will expel them.

Your culture is quickly becoming the main way you attract and keep the best people—staff or volunteers. Great cultures will keep great people. Toxic cultures will expel them. Click To Tweet

Want to Create a Better Culture (And a Better You) in 2019?

Of all the mysteries we try to crack as leaders, the mystery of how to lead yourself well is one of the greatest. You will only lead others as well as you lead yourself.

And that’s a journey…it always is. It has been for me.

That’s why I’m so excited about being able to share my latest book, Didn’t See It Coming.

In Didn’t See It Coming, I outline 7 issues almost every leader experiences and almost no one expects. They’re the issues that take leaders out or take us under. And even if your struggle with cynicism, pride, burnout or irrelevance doesn’t cause to exit ministry or leadership, not dealing with those issues can still thwart your potential and kill your team culture. A lot of the book is my journey toward health. It’s a long journey…and an imperfect one. I don’t get everything right, but the difference personal and spiritual health makes is astonishing, in both life and leadership.

I wrote it to help you make progress, spiritually, personally and in leadership. Thousands of leaders are now using it not just for personal study, but for group discussion and team reading and implementation.

What are other leaders saying? Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor of Central Church, Las Vegas, calls Didn’t See It Coming “the most important book you’ll read all year.” Both Brian Houston and Andy Stanley call it ‘powerful.’ Daniel Pink, NYT best-selling author of Drive and When believes “the book is sure to help you.”

Check out Didn’t See It Coming for yourself and pick up your copy here.

What Do You See?

Those are the disruptive trends I see for 2019.

I love being in this together. We can accomplish more together than we can apart. I’ll be drilling down on these issues more here on this blog and on my Leadership Podcast.

Think of this as the start of a conversation, not the end of one.

In the meantime, what do you see as trends for 2019?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

49 Comments

  1. Adam on June 1, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Carey,

    I’m not sure if you’re still tracking comments for this article, and I apologize for being several months late (just found this).

    One of the road blocks I have with church is that there is no discussion of the cinematic elements of the Bible. It is traditionally read as if one is in a theater watching the movie, but having grown up in a cinematic era, I know there are myriad discussions possible about plot development, screen writing, selection of characters, what voices are magnified and which ones are silenced. I’ve been waiting now for most of a decade to try and have these kinds of conversations, but the church in general seems uncomfortable with it.

    For example, the characters of Adam and Eve in Genesis are, for all intents and purposes, essentially silent and momentary in the plot development. While Adam was blamed for the entire fall of mankind and yet lived for over 900 years, we know almost nothing about his or Eve’s life. I’m not comfortable with the dead-end nature of them in the plot, as I believe we could have learned an immense amount from a biography of nearly 1000 years.

    I sketched out a few chapters of theological fiction to see where my thoughts would go on this, and it left me wanting to share this somehow with the church. But theological fiction seems to ride the line between earnest curiosity and heresy, so I’m not sure what to do with it.

    I think topics like this would attract many people and would open the lines of transparency with those inside and outside the church, but I don’t know how or if it would ever be accepted.

  2. Craig on February 8, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    It seems like #3 is a contradiction of #4…online church perhaps being an epitome of consumer driven “church.”

  3. Craig Smee on January 25, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    Mission requires engagement and movement. Both of which can be achieved digitally. The onset of digital and social media have in fact amplified movements and engagement to unprecedented levels not just of involvement but unlike real world engagement and movement, highly measurable and immediately actionable.

    • Carolyn Culbertson on July 4, 2019 at 7:19 am

      Yes!

  4. Jane (retired pastor) on January 6, 2019 at 4:17 am

    I can hardly believe that Women in Ministry can still be an issue. No wonder we are seen as irrelevant when we still fail to understand God’s heart towards women. Women are allowed to be missionaries, to give their lives for the gospel just so long as they don’t think they can do that stuff back home.

    • Margo on January 6, 2019 at 10:19 am

      Jane, I wondered the same thing when I read “Women in Ministry” among the list above…years ago at one of our Baptist denomination gatherings, someone made the amazing point that if women are not to serve in North America, then sending them overseas was racist, i.e., sending “second best” or “non-Biblical” leaders to other countries but not allowing them to serve God under His authority in our own countries of North America is racist. As a person called to ordained ministry on God’s behalf (not mine), representing His authority (not mine), I was pleased to hear someone “tell it like it is.” God calls individuals for specific purposes; we are called to obey and serve Him. Thank-you, Jane, for your comment. “Retired” or not, you are still encouraging the flock, even as God has called you to do. M <.

    • Trevor on January 6, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      When it comes to authority and teaching in terms of women in mixed settings, we can either be in submission to the world and be ‘rekevant’ Or be in submission to the word of God and be faithful. We cannot do both. It is a mistake to make the issue a modern woman’s rights issue rather than understanding the biblical imperatives.

      • Margo on January 6, 2019 at 12:27 pm

        Trevor, from your statement, I can’t tell what you are considering as “in submission to the Word of God and be faithful” and what you are considering “be in submission to the world and be ‘relevant.” Could you clarify, please? Thanks!

      • Dennis on January 9, 2019 at 8:37 am

        I have and continue to sit under the teaching of not one, but several faithful and trusted people. They are male and female, black, white, multi-racial, residents of my country, and residents of other countries. For me it isn’t about “women’s rights.” It’s about communicating the Word of God faithfully, reverently, and with a desire to make disciples of Christ. If I’m wrong for doing that, I will accept my rebuke at the time of judgement but not until.

        • Trevor on January 9, 2019 at 9:10 am

          Dennis, can I suggest you rethink your approach? I mean in general. You are saying your not open to learning and will find out if your right or not when you stand before Christ – that’s not a great position to be in my friend.

          I have been a Pastor for 20 years and my approach is always, if I gain a better understanding of the scriptures then I will change my mind in a heart beat. If the Bible said only women should preach in mixed settings, I would say amen and not preach. If the Bible said, jump up and down on one leg while preaching, I would do that and say amen.

          God has given to the church gifted teaching,and we are to be Bereans. As the pilgrim fathers said when they left Plymouth in my country, “there is yet more light to come from this book.” On this basis there was a reformation etc. Let us be in submission to Christ through his word. It is Hos, not ours. We only have a responsibility to strive to understand it and obey it.

          • Dennis on January 9, 2019 at 2:52 pm

            Wow, Trevor! If I were not “open to learning,” why would I bother to listen to those I trust? I believe the first sentence of my previous response indicates I am not only open to learning, but am desirous of it.
            I have been a Paramedic for 30 years, but I never lead with that when leveraging my experience for someone else’s benefit. I suspect you and I share the privilege of being able to put a few letters after our names on our stationary, but I don’t do it. Why? I am grateful for the opportunities, the successes, and the struggles I have had in gaining knowledge, and I fully respect the achievements of others, but leading with my credentials when trying to make a point simply isn’t helpful. It’s easy to say; “You should believe me because I have a degree and/or experience in ___________ .” It’s much harder to say; “I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to walk beside you on this journey and learn with you.”
            I digress. As for my “position;” I believe God is who He says He is, the almighty maker of heaven and earth. I also believe I am who He says I am. A child of His, redeemed by His son Jesus. That, dear pastor, is a GOOD position to be in!



          • Rob on January 10, 2019 at 9:41 am

            Dennis, I don’t agree with Trevor’s stance, but I also didn’t feel that he was throwing around his credentials. I think he was simply trying to state that he wasn’t some guy off the street who was rolling out some opinions. I did agree with his point on your stance of waiting until judgement to change your mind. His mindset of being open to learning and changing his paradigm of thought if revealed through Scripture, preachings, or via some other way is admirable. I think that is all that he was trying to say. It is difficult to have these discussions over text because we miss out on 50% (I made that number up, but think it is accurate) of communication (tone, non-verbals, cadence, etc).

            I have seen women do amazing things in ministry, and have come to an understanding lately that if you put 8 pastors/theologians/parishioners in a room together, you will get 8 different ideas on the topic. In the end, for me this is of low importance and won’t change how I live my life or how I walk with Christ so I will leave this topic along with predestination/free will for those who are more inclined to argue about the minutia.



          • Trevor on January 10, 2019 at 10:00 am

            Hi Dennis,

            Sorry for the slow reply, and I do apologise if how I replied was unhelpful. What I was trying to say is that my full time vocation over the last 20 years has been to wrestle with understanding the scriptures and teaching them. The point was exactly the opposite of what you suggest. I was not saying “believe me because I am a pastor” – I was saying “as someone who studies and teaches the Bible full time, I am always open to being wrong, and changing my mind.” – And the point had nothing to do with women in ministry as such. As I said it was a general point about saying you would only accept correction from Christ on the day of judgment. I was trying to be helpful not combative, so I am sorry if I poorly executed that goal but do hope you will still consider it. Every blessing.



          • Dennis on January 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

            Thank you for the clarification, Trevor. I mistook your sharing the longevity you have in your area of service (pastoring) for something you did not intend at all. My apologies for that.
            I do appreciate your thoughts and will think and pray on them.
            We may agree to disagree on women in ministry, but let us always look to the Lord.



    • Maurizio on January 16, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      If you read the Bible , their are numerous examples that our Creator treated women very well and the bible laws protected them and for good reason, and his Son Jesus imitated the same compassion to all kinds of women. don’t blame God ! For Imperfect Humans that really don’t follow Bible principles.

    • Klay on February 9, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      I don’t think the issue is women in ministry it is women as Pastors.

  5. Jonathan on January 5, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Carey are these trends true or applicable now in places outside the U.S.? I am a pastor from the Philippines and I think we are way behind the reasons or observations you had for these trends. thanks

    • Orion Kenny - Hamilton Elim Church, NZL on January 8, 2019 at 9:59 pm

      Johnathon, I would say yes and no.
      It makes sense and i agree with these realistically based on where i am & who i work with. On the other hand though, probably not the same depending on culture, relevancy of social media etc. so read and verify with your current situation.

      Personally, i’m thinking its very well written and very applicable for most, if not all of the ‘church’ in NZL.
      Very worth while read, especially since i can personally relate whilst being involved with a Church who is looking into Planting a campus to reach a Young Adult Crowd. (Primarily not exclusively)

      Love it!

  6. Phil Kniesel on January 4, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Carey – great article. Would totally agree with you on these points – especially the online church world. Thx for pushing church leaders to think. Sharing this with our staff team.

  7. Lee Brubacher on January 4, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Well written Carey! I can see our church as being smack dab in the middle of all of these trends – literally centred between the poles. Thanks for the clarity. Very helpful! We need to shepherd Christ’s church as David with “skillful hands and integrity of heart.”

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 4, 2019 at 9:52 am

      Thanks Lee. We’re all in it together.

  8. Martin on January 3, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Carey, it’s seems most of your article is still focused around making your churches attractive to other believers and how to gain and keep them in 2019. ?
    I would think Unchurched, unbelievers are still more likely to come and visit a church through a personal connection and invite.? Are we so focused on growing the church and not enough on growing the Kingdom.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 4, 2019 at 9:53 am

      Hey Martin…thanks for the feedback. Huh…I’m really not coming at it from that angle at all. Strange that it feels that way. This is about reaching people, not keeping people. The people we’re trying to reach (the unchurched) are changing…this I hope can help us reach them.

    • Mark on January 7, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      Martin, why do you believe unbelievers are more likely to show up at a church in person if they can first access something online that requires less risk-taking and exposure (in their minds). To Carey’s point, I have to believe unbelievers are at least as prone to limiting initial connection to something new online (especially involving a change of worldview).

  9. Sarah on January 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Jesus commanded Christians to go out and tell others about the good news of God’s Kingdom and how that Kingdom is going to bring peace with ‘no death, pain, mourning or outcry any longer.’ Revelation 21:3,4. Jesus said to do this work in the entire inhabited earth and then the end would come. Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19. Older ones and younger ones can do this work. Older ones up in years can contribute and feel a sense of purpose helping others to get the good news.

    Talking to strangers about God isn’t an easy thing to do, but it’s a requirement for Christians. Jesus set the example of being kind to all and non-judgmental when he went from house to house and town to town. I’ve found that just listening to peoples concerns when I visit them at their door, helps me to understand where they’re coming from and where appropriate I can share a thought from the Bible without being too pushy. I ask them if they want me to come back. If they don’t, I shake the dust off my feet so to speak and continue on.

    Jesus also wasn’t political and didn’t get paid for his ministry. Being non-political means you can talk to anyone of any political background and not be biased towards them. If you are volunteering in your ministry, you are showing God that you have a self-sacrificing spirit. And he will reward and bless you exponentially. You will literally lack nothing. “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 I would say that not being paid is wise because it’s showing that you don’t need a material reward in order to do God’s work. And this brings many many blessings.

    I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. ~Sarah

    • Ian Craig on February 11, 2019 at 6:01 am

      Sarah, your desire to reach out to the community is commendable, however spreading a false gospel is not. Every time I am visited by a JW representative the conversation leads to Christ’s deity. I always pull out my NASB, KJV, NLT or NIV and read John 1:1. The JW will read from his or her copy of NWT (New World Translation-unique to only JW Watchtower) the difference will come down to the letter “a”. All English translations states “the Word was God”, whereby the NWT states “the word was a god”. By adding the letter “a” the meaning was completely and deceptively changed. The JW’s god is not my God!

  10. Tina on January 3, 2019 at 12:46 am

    Carey,
    My husband and I left our Baptist Church home we were at for 18 years where we attended and served along with our two children. We were not connected and were seeking a more charismatic worship and service overall. Everything you explained is exactly why we left. We are at a large non-denominational church with 17 campuses and a very vibrant atmosphere… and we LOVE IT!! You gave me the words I have been looking for and I completely agree with your assessments!
    God Bless!
    Tina

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 4, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Love this! Thanks Tina.

  11. Chris on January 2, 2019 at 11:58 am

    The Episcopal Cathedral my wife and I have attended since 1972 has seen a serious decline in Sunday attendance over time, and experienced a significant drop since 2008. The whole of the Episcopal Church is experiencing similar declines. As a liturgical church, the service format has not changed for centuries with morning prayer, sermon and eucharist. There is resistance, or more properly, inattention to other forms of service that might be held, say on Saturday or during the week. Our online presence is primitive, and a small percentage of the budget. Little effort is made to attract a growing population of urban folks. I would like to know what other churches are doing that have proved successful in at least maintaining membership, if not some growth. I feel that as a church loaded with bureaucracy, Bishops, presiding Bishops and all that goes with that, we are “stuck” in a kind of theological cul de sac that will be extremely difficult to move out of.

    • Susan Michelfelder on January 2, 2019 at 7:04 pm

      Check out Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal (Cincinnati, Ohio). They’re going gangbusters. Call them up and ask them what is working for them. Also check out the web site for “Invite, Welcome, Connect”, an Episcopal evangelism program. They are going international now. And send your dean to CEEP in February, the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes. They have the best of congregational development workshops for the money that you can find in the Episcopal Church from my perspective. People who attend these workshops and trainings are there because they want to grow the church and have vital congregations. No whining there! You can do it! Blessings.

    • Mike on January 2, 2019 at 9:24 pm

      Install a cafe ( drinks and snacks), perform Sunday morning concerts and then mold the gospel to today’s culture. Repeat weekly. That should do it.

    • Mark on January 9, 2019 at 8:10 am

      Check out St. John’s on Lafayette Square and Christ Church in Georgetown (Washington, DC) and All Saints Church in Chevy Chase. All Saints has grown significantly and has implemented a more modern service while maintaining the traditional liturgical services and even had the Bishop asking what they had done to grow. Christ Church still has Choral Evensong every other Sunday night. In DC some Episcopal churches are reversing the decline and growing with people who are just looking for a good church. They all have an online presence.

  12. Larry George on January 2, 2019 at 11:45 am

    I am a 72 year old retired person who still feels he has something to offer. I have grown up in the church and seen its best and worst moments. I agree with Dennis that their seems to be a disconnect between words and actions especially between saying we want people to be connected and then doing something to really make that happen. It seems like any suggestion about putting things in place to insure people have true opportunities to be connected only are considered if the people in positions of power have thought of them first. I realize that a church populated by people with my profile are in danger of just slipping away to insignificance, but I also believe that a multigenerational congregation can weather the ups and downs of life and ministry with wisdom and stability.

  13. Dennis on January 2, 2019 at 10:40 am

    I must admit, I’m confused. As a 62 year old, retired person who loves the local church and has served regularly in mine for years I feel like I have “aged out” of the local church I dearly love. I attend a “campus” of a multi-site organization that sees upwards of 10,000 attendees each Sunday among all local campuses. (our campus typically sees about 3000 per Sunday) The parent organization is known for developing young church leaders and does an excellent job of it. But the spoils of that focus are older people who are still enthusiastic, have shareable gifts and talents, and have the time to be involved get kicked to the curb. These “young leaders” are respectful and pay lip service to “our wonderful volunteers” but it is quite obvious they do not want anyone that looks like their parents serving alongside them. We are placed in roles that are all but meaningless while being “praised” for our service. Is this what “passive aggressive” means? It’s just weird.
    I recently began a “leave of absence” from serving on Sundays and am viewing services online more often. For me it is a mixed blessing. I relish being able to keep up with the messages and I do enjoy being able to concentrate on them without “chatter” in my ears. (via headset) But I do miss “the gathering.” Interestingly the response to my notification of “leave of absence” was simply; “Sounds good, Dennis.” from a twenty-something staffer. Since then (two months) I have had no contact from anyone. Nothing.
    I’m not interested in finding a new church. I love this one and support it’s mission fully. I would like to serve in some meaningful way again, but if I’m too old for ’em I’ll just have to accept that I guess. I can’t get any younger.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Dennis, I hear what you and Larry are saying. A few thoughts. First, there’s a generation of younger adults looking for older mentors. You might build some authentic friendships there, and if you take an interest in them, they often take an interest in you.

      Second, I get that leadership is trending younger. And that can be a great thing. I would significantly ask what you can do to help with that. Pray for them. Cheer them on. Serve. Give. Invite friends and let the next generation lead. That’s my plan as I get older (I’m over 50). I might feel differently at 65 or 75, but I think the best thing I can do is to encourage, cheer and pray for the next generation.

      • Dennis on January 2, 2019 at 3:00 pm

        Thanks, Carey. Good encouragement there. I will gladly pay it forward by encouraging, praying and cheering for the next generation of leaders. I did mentor a young man a few years ago who moved on to a new opportunity after about a year. Maybe I’m not up to speed with what seems to be a pretty fast turnover rate, but perhaps if I become a bit more intentional in learning how this leadership development program works I can be of some help there. Happy new year!

        • Margo on January 2, 2019 at 3:58 pm

          I think that perhaps there is more to the issue you raise, Dennis, than what Carey has addressed. Encouragement, prayer, and cheering are important but are also more “spectator”-oriented than what I hear you addressing. At 56, I, too, have seen over-50’s “thrown away” by younger leaders, and am concerned that one of my denomination’s goals for 2020 is “75 emergent (defined as “young”) leaders.” Many Biblical examples of God’s calling people to service & leadership are of those over 50…very few are under 30, yet, that is where we seem to be looking for our church “ministers” (ordained and otherwise). However, just yesterday, I sensed the Lord was leading me to focus on ministry and discipleship to and with the generations above 50. So perhaps the tide is turning on this oversight. And Dennis, I apologize for those who have not contacted you during your Sabbatical; sometimes we just overlook those in need of connection. Unfortunately, though, they are missing out on a significant opportunity to minister to you, and to be ministered to, by you. I don’t know why we continue to “miss” ministering to our most-loyal members and ministers…After a very difficult pastoral situation from which I resigned, I have not been serving as pastor for 3 years, as I await the Lord’s next assignment. In that time, I have been contacted by my denomination once…by email…letting me know that an exception will be given to me, so that I could continue to be “accredited” for one more year, even though I am not currently pastoring–after that, I would be listed as “ordained” but would lose my accreditation with the denomination. The Lord is good, but sometimes we, as His ambassadors, miss the opportunities He presents us to hold one another up in the battle. M <.

          • Dennis on January 2, 2019 at 4:52 pm

            Thanks for the encouragement, Margo. I’m not ready to become a permanent “spectator” yet and am looking forward to my “next assignment” as well. God has always provided an opportunity when I thought there wasn’t one out there. I pray He will move in your ministry/life as well.



          • Peter on January 4, 2019 at 9:38 pm

            Dennis
            You have highlighted a growing trend within most churches in the western world. I believe most have neglected the scriptures that encourage both young and old generations working together- and in all eventualities they too will become older and face this ageism problem. The bible clearly states God does not look at age etc. it is a cop out as another has written to just chear them on from the sidelines ( show me that in the scripture) God has an all inclusive attitude towards us for being approved . My only prayer is that one day a pastor will say “ I prayed and God said for me to ask you to do …..” it is my belief that the model of church we see today will in times to come have to radically change. There is no talk on repentance, fear of the lord, holiness etc it is all about what you can get from God, how we are a new creation – but no inward change no talk of restitution, only that God wants to give me … this and that… ohh we can’t talk about God being righteous judge etc. Yes we are in a spiral that we cannot see Someone mentioned church growth but if you look at the stats from 10- 20 years ago you will be shocked that we are now below 2%. And yet we pay our selves on the back because we think we have a modern take on Church. I weep …



        • Trevor Allin on January 3, 2019 at 9:35 am

          I’m not at all sure that leadership trending younger is a good thing. You can’t replace the maturity and wisdom of someone who has walked with God for decades. The trendy young guys need to be under the wings of the mature men of God. I think we need to not just spot trends but seek to reverse the bad or spiritually unhelpful ones.

          • Margo on January 3, 2019 at 10:30 am

            Agreed. M <.



      • Susan Michelfelder on January 2, 2019 at 6:55 pm

        Dear Carey, I have to call BS on this. What happened to “Gentile and Jew, male and female (and non-binary) , rich and poor, young and old”? We have spent a lot of time and energy in the church learning to be multi-cultural and from my point of view, differences in generations are primarily cultural differences: different language, different values, different history. If we in the church can’t bridge these differences for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ, then who? There are obviously a lot of people over 50 starving for Christian community. Who better to reach them than missionaries of their own generation who already speak their language? We may retire from our church paying jobs but never from the church.

    • Mike on January 21, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      I appreciate your comment, Dennis. I just turned 40 this year. I used to lead worship in my local church during my 20s and 30s. I no longer participate in any local church in part because of what you highlight. Western culture seems to disregard the wisdom of age in favor of the vibrancy and charisma of youth. It’s probably because the elderly remind us we’re going to die someday. No one likes to hear and see that, church-goers included.

      I heard something once by Richard Rohr that I’ve taken to heart. Life is divided into two halves. The first half is writing your story. The second half is commentary on what you’ve written. Focus on your commentary and let the young slay their dragons.

      When they’re ready the student will appear.

    • Michael on January 27, 2019 at 11:18 pm

      Such an interesting conversation here. I have felt shoved aside for years by the church’s Madison Ave-esque obsession with next generation leaders, as well as its inability to grasp and deal with real life issues that were killing me and destroying the marriages and lives of most people I know like porn and sex addiction. So I combined the two felt needs and started my own mentoring ministry 17 years ago called BraveHearts. We were originally commissioned by Andy Stanley and North Point Comm Church. We use a mentoring-centric appproach to helping people find freedom in Christ from habitual sexual sin. Now, at age 61, I spend most of my time recruiting and training others to be mentors – the older and more messed up their now redemptive lives ave been, the better. We also produce large scale virtual summits to essentially sidestep silent church leaders who still largely ignore this issue, in order to deliver best practices information and faith-based recovery strategies to strugglers and their spouses.

      I’ve noticed even church strategy thought leaders like Carey seem to address this issue sparingly, which shouldn’t surprise me since less than 7% of all churches offer any kind of ministry to help sexual strugglers (which includes over half of all pastors), and far less than 1% offer ANY resources to help their traumatized spouses, who are easily the most isolated, abused, and neglected people group in the local church today!

      These women represent over 50% of all women in the church! Yet I don’t hear anyone speculating about how this massive group of ticked off women, many of whom are telling me they’re leaving their local church, might be impacting church growth rates. Astounding! This is when I’m glad I’m not living in the fantasy world of out-of-touch church staff.

      BTW, recent studies show that over 70% of your millennial heavy church staff’s youth pastors and worship leaders have a full blown sexual addiction, and that includes the women.

      So our message as lay leaders turned mentors to the local church leadership is we’re done waiting for you to do something about this. Join us if you like, but with or without you, we’re taking action ourselves at a grassroots level to slay this dragon once and for all.

      Feel free to reach out to me at mleahy@bravehearts.org if you’d like to learn more about how to launch your own mentoring ministry in this or any other area of need, especially those that you feel like the church is ignoring. And that goes for women as well as men.

      Oh, and again – the older you are and and the more learned experience you have, the better.

  14. Jim on January 2, 2019 at 9:06 am

    A trend I’m hoping to see gaining ground… congregations will increasingly call out their own churches that ignore, or go silent on, a big issue that the world and congregation are talking about. In an era of instant news, trends and sharing, the congregation will be thinking about big issues with or without the church. If the leadership and therefore the church have a stance or attitude towards an issue, state it. Even if it’s tolerance or encouragement of conversation on the topic – say it! Homosexuality, women in ministry, domestic violence, refugees, polarizing theological doctrines, attitudes towards other denominations – people want clarity and transparency. Fear of what will happen if someone says something should be wiped out – best that people know what sort of church they’re attending, and leave… than hearing rumours of what happened to so-and-so when they raised the topic, and the fall out getting whispered about from the pews. Especially for the church who is structured around memberships, committees, democratic voting and AGMs.

    • Mark on January 9, 2019 at 8:12 am

      I have heard Episcopal priests mention these in the homily but using only one sentence to do so. There is often no reason to dwell on them for 10 minutes but just to make people aware of them. It can be done in a non-partisan manner.

    • HoosierConservative on February 19, 2019 at 10:27 am

      I have to disagree with you. I don’t participate in Christian fellowship to rehash the day’s biggest Drudge links. Sometimes we need to check the world’s baggage at the door and step into God’s presence with no agenda.

  15. lukus simari on January 2, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Truth that few can see and and even fewer can articulate. Well put. #facts

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 2, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Lukus!

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