5 Traits of Future Churches (Orange Conference 2014 Talk Notes)

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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.


Will 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.

Free Resource: Thriving Churches Checklist

In a rapidly changing culture, pastors and church leaders are facing never-seen-before challenges. The good news? You’re not alone. With the right tools and resources, you can weed out the unhealthy areas of your ministry and lead a thriving church.

Churches that aren’t just surviving but thriving in this season share 8 common traits. Download the Thriving Churches Checklist & e-Book to discover these traits and lead a healthy, growing church.

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

What’s Stopping Your Church From Growing? 

Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of church leaders to help them understand the dynamics of church growth.

And here’s what I've learned.

It’s almost never a lack of passion or effort that leads to stagnation, it’s that growing churches are effective at removing the barriers that stand between them and reaching more people.

And that’s exactly why I created The Art of Church Growth course.

By taking a thorough evaluation of your leadership team, volunteer core, missional alignment, and culture, you'll create an action plan to:

  1. Discover and eliminate the barriers that keep your church from growing
  2. Guide your church through transformational conversations that lead to growth and discipleship

While only God can grant growth, you can position your church for it. The best time to do that is now.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.