Ever wonder what the future church will look like?

This week I’m excited to be speaking at the Orange Conference in Atlanta Georgia.

As a way of serving those who attend my talks I’ll be posting the outline to each session here on the blog.

Even if you don’t attend the conference, I hope you can glean a few insights from them that might help you lead better now.  And if you’re in the session, you won’t have to guess what that pesky blank you forgot to fill in was all about.

So here’s the outline for my talk on 5 Traits of Future Churches.


OC 14 altWill your ministry have the same kind of momentum tomorrow that you have today?

Will your church be effective at reaching your community five years from now?

In this breakout we will discuss what you can do to get your church ready for tomorrow, today.


1. Everything’s changing.

2. “Change is not an option. How you respond to it is.” —Reggie Joiner

3. “To reach people no one else is reaching, we need to do things no one else is doing.”—Craig Groeschel

4. Future-oriented leaders position their church today to make an impact tomorrow.

Five Traits of Churches That Will Impact the Future


1. Future churches commit to the message but are flexible with the method.

Three keys to keep your method current:

a. Clearly distinguish between mission, vision and strategy.

b. Evaluate regularly.

c. Be absolutely honest.

Will you display flexibility with the method (even the ones you introduced)?


2. Future churches give people a place to belong before they believe.

Reaching unchurched people effectively begins with ministry, not theology.

Belong – Because you can belong even before you believe.

Believe – Because those who belong often start to believe.

Become – Because everyone who believes can become someone new.

 Will you give people space to belong before they believe?


 3. Future churches value online relationships as real relationships.

 1. How will you respond if the majority of the population decides to never set foot in a building on Sunday morning for a shared experiences?

2. Three Keys to Embracing Online Connections:

a.Actually connect with social media

b. SEO optimize local, helpful content.

c. Use multiple channels.

 Will you value online relationships as real relationships?


4. Future churches embrace quicker, lighter, smaller footprints.

 Quicker = Speed. The speed of future growth will be impacted by the speed of decision making.

Lighter = Fewer resources. Lower cost venues mean higher growth. Portable will become a permanent part of the future.

Smaller = Size.  A greater number of smaller venues can ultimately accommodate more people.

 How are you preparing for quicker, lighter, smaller footprints?


5. Future churches encourage experimentation.

1.  The greatest threat to your future success is your current success.

2. Consolidation always happens before a major shift in history.

3. There is no pattern yet for future church.

4. Three ways to experiment:

a. Devote 10% of your time and budget to things you’re not sure will work out.

b. Reward the effort but evaluate the result.

c. Don’t allow what’s good to block what has the potential to be great.

 Are you prepared to risk failure to ensure your future success?

If you want to go deeper, here are some related posts that can help you and your team:

11 Traits of Churches That Will Impact the Future

Why Portable Church Should Be A Permanent Part of the Future

Revivals Are Dead: 5 Things That Will Never Be the Same Again

Want to stay on top of things? Sign up for my email list (near the upper right under my photo). You’ll get a free ebook on reaching unchurched people, plus every post via email in a weekly digest and bonuses I send to my subscribers from time to time that no one else gets. 

Got questions or thoughts you’d like to share? Leave a comment!


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  5. Jason Heppner on April 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks Carey for these massively encouraging words of wisdom. I really appreciate your focus on trait #5, (specifically point C of #5) because all too often we do block ourselves reaching our full potential simply by “patting ourselves on the backs” over and over and over again and simply being satisfied with “just that good thing.” Although, giving ourselves some credit isn’t bad, but when it hinders further greatness and hinders our efforts to reach the “more than all we can imaginable and think and dream…” (Eph. 3:20 stuff) then that’s when we can hurt our efforts moving forward. Let’s be bold and courageous and thrive forward!

  6. […] Carey Nieuwhof Ever wonder what the future church will look like? This week I’m excited to be speaking at […]

  7. Bobby McGraw on April 30, 2014 at 11:31 am

    This was a fantastic talk at Orange!

    In the talk you mentioned that we should interact with people on twitter instead of using twitter as a billboard. Do you think this can be done effectively through a church twitter account (ex. @sugarhillchurch) or do you think this is best accomplished through the staff’s personal accounts?

    It was great meeting you – blessings!

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