things that will never be the same again

You might think “things will never be the same again” is a conversation reserved for people over 70.

But my guess is you’re struggling with that in ministry leadership right now.

Even if you don’t realize it. And you’re probably struggling with it more than you think.

Wise leaders pay attention to those instincts and jump on any insights right away, because the key to the future lies within them.

Even if you’re a young leader, the change you’re seeing around you is radical. And it will require a radical response from you.

The change you're seeing around you is radical. And it will require a radical response from you. Click To Tweet

Ch-ch-changes All Around You

Think about what’s changed in the last 20 years. Back in the early 90s:

Less than .5% of the world’s population was on the internet.

Wifi and broadband didn’t exist.

We watched movies at home on a VHS and went to a store to rent them.

95 % of music sold was on CD.

If you wanted to go somewhere, you used a paper map to plot your route.

Google’s founders were in college.

There was no such thing as text messaging.

Remember the world most of us were born into? It doesn’t exist anymore.

So no one should be surprised that the church is changing, rapidly.

How you respond to it will determine your ability to effectively lead the mission of the church into the next 20 years.

Here are five things that will never be the same again in the church:

1. Revivals will become a thing of the past.

Don’t get angry. Yet.

Think this through. A revival assumes there is something to revive. As fewer and fewer people attend church or decide to follow Jesus, there is less and less to revive.

Future churches will make disciples, not just revive the few remaining ones who have drifted away.

We will see great moves of God, but they will not primarily be based on calling people back to what they have left, but instead be based on calling people into something they have never experienced.

This has radical implications for how you preach, communicate, think, structure and function as a ministry.

Future churches will make disciples, not just revive the few remaining ones who have drifted away. Click To Tweet

2. The church won’t be able to chart its future based on current member’s preferences.

An unstated assumption in previous generations was that the future would look like the past with a few modifications. As a result, members fought for the kind of music, architecture, staff and culture they wanted, assuming it would ‘work’ moving forward.

The church of today and tomorrow is so not about the current preferences of existing members.

Instead, the future church will be about existing members rallying around a mission that is not fundamentally about them, but about Christ and the world he loves.

3. The church’s best staff will not come from seminary.

This breaks my heart, but the most gifted leaders are not flocking toward ministry or seminary anymore (I wish they were). They are heading into the marketplace.

The best church staff moving forward will not be products of traditional seminaries. Sure, there will be exceptions, but for the most part, you will assemble your team from gifted and passionate people who already attend your church and have never thought about ministry as a vocation. (You might end up sending some of them to seminary after.)

I realize this trend has been happening for several decades now in growing churches.

But I think in the next decade this will hit the senior pastor position harder than ever. Maybe the senior pastors who will lead the best churches of the next 20 years won’t come from seminary. How we will get them educated in scripture and theology remains open. But rethinking theological education is critical.

The best church staff moving forward will not be products of traditional seminaries. Click To Tweet

4. Young adults will not flock back to church when they have kids.

If you believe that young adults who leave the church will flock back the moment they have kids, you’re probably already disappointed with what you’re seeing.

A few years ago, David Kinnaman and I wrote a report for Orange which, among other things, pointed out how false this assumption is.  You can read the report here.

If you’re waiting for young families to come to you, you’ll be waiting forever.

It will take a strategy to reach young families these days. In my view, no one is doing a better job helping leaders figure out how to reach families than my friends at Orange.

If you're waiting for young families to come to you, you'll be waiting forever. Click To Tweet

5. Loyalty to the institution will no longer motivate people.

You can still find the last vestiges of this in dying small or mid-sized churches: people who will stick around because they can’t imagine X congregation not being there anymore.

Often if you poke a little deeper, you will discover that some people’s loyalty to their particular organization is stronger than their loyalty to the kingdom itself. This attitude will disappear.

In the future, loyalty to the institution will no longer motivate people.

The good news is loyalty to the mission will. Congregations come and go. The mission is bigger than all of us. And future Christians will be far more loyal to the mission than we’ve seen.

Smart leaders are already pointing people back to the mission again and again.

Some Practical Help To Grow Your Church In Spite Of These Changes:

In today’s changing world, getting a stuck church growing or helping a church that’s reaching new people grow even further can seem daunting.

It doesn’t have to be.

Whether you’re a church that isn’t growing, has plateaued, or whether you wish your church was growing faster than it is, I’d love to help you break through. That’s why I created the Church Growth Masterclass.

The Church Growth Masterclass is everything I wish I knew about church growth when I got into ministry more than 20 years ago.

Naturally, I can’t make a church grow. You can’t make a church grow. Only God can do that.

But I believe you can position your church to grow.

You can knock down the barriers that keep you from growing. You can eliminate the things that keep your church from growing and implement some strategies that will help you reach far more people. That’s what I’d love to help you do in the Church Growth Masterclass.

In the Church Growth Masterclass I’ll show you:

  • The 10 reasons your church isn’t growing
  • Why even committed church-goers aren’t attending as often as before
  • How to tell if your church leaders are getting burned out
  • The 5 keys to your church better impacting millennials.
  • What to do when a church wants to grow … but not change
  • 5 essentials for church growth
  • 5 disruptive church trends to watch—and how to respond
  • How to increase church attendance by increasing engagement.

The Masterclass includes a complete set of videos that you can play with your team, board or staff, PDF workbooks that will help you tackle the issues you’re facing, and bonus materials that will help you navigate the most pressing issues facing churches that want to reach their cities today.

You can learn more and gain instant access to the course today.

In the end

None of these changes are bad for the church. In fact, you could argue each will make us stronger. That’s what I’m hoping for.

And if all these changes continue to progress as they are now, Jesus will be more central to the church of the future. Our insular, unquestioned church culture will not be.

What do you think will never be the same again? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment.

77 Comments

  1. Mark on May 3, 2021 at 11:21 am

    And I thought great thinkers were dead! Thank you for “reviving” my belief in God’s greatest resource to us…our mind!

  2. Eugenia Lieu on March 12, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    Revivals will become a thing of the past just like how it is in the Old Testament, and how Judaism comes true for people that attend church revivals. French Women don’t have babies for nothing- They are already getting paid a customary respect under the custom of the language in the relationship. Whereas, German Women do not have female rights at all, and always had to speak in male sexist nouns.

  3. Angela on July 30, 2019 at 9:43 am

    I am very interested in reading the report you mention in number 4 about young adults not returning to the church, but the link takes me to the Orange website, is there another place I can read it?

  4. Randy Discher on July 30, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Another Great Post Carey: I would encourage you to read Rick Richardson’s new Book – You Found Me – as it pertains to point 4 of your blog today. Many have drawn these conclusions without great “facts” or research. This book helps dispel myths evangelicals have come to believe about the receptivity of nones and millennials in our culture. I am not saying we donn’t have a problem and the trends aren’t as we wish but we need to get a little more accurate and see what the research actually says.

    Rick’s book is a must read for every church leader.

  5. Bekele on July 27, 2019 at 5:12 am

    I like revival of Mission. So why I give my life to be a fronter of the Mission.
    I love Mobilizing people for Mission.
    It is my fevert work

  6. hitesh on May 30, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Thanks for the information. The blog is really informative. I am learning a lot about ayurvedic treatment from you and healthreactive

  7. Oliver Edwards on April 24, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Hey Carey, this was a challenging article not because I think you are wrong, but there are some interesting implication that I see from my perspective.

    I am currently pursuing becoming a reservist chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces, in addition to pastoring a small rural church part time. I don’t know how much you know about this system operates, but the trend you point to about the de-seminarying of our church leadership is certainly a trend in evangelical circles and it has serious implications for the CAF. The first one is this: you CAN’T be a chaplain in the army without having an MDiv in Canada! This is amazing because next to nothing an MDiv-trained pastor is trained to do is even allowed in the Forces (not much call for deep language exegesis in a place where you probably can’t even say the name of Jesus out loud anymore).

    But more startling, it sets the bar incredibly high for entrants. In non-mainline Christianity, MDivs are becoming rarer and rarer, and generally only the lead pastor of a church is even likely to have one. But lead pastors don’t have the time to give to chaplaincy, and people don’t go to seminary to get an MDiv to be a chaplain. This has led to huge vacancies in reserve chaplaincy roles – at least in my area – Western Canada. There are 8 openings in Alberta alone. The one I am working towards hasn’t had anyone in the role for 15 years!

    I personally am excited about moving into the role but I still have a year of part time courses to take to finish my MDiv. I originally applied not as a chaplain so I have been in the reserves for a year now and let this be a call to all Church Leaders: the ARMY NEEDS JESUS! These young men and women are exactly the people we need to reach and the fact that these chaplain roles are going unfilled should be a shame to us who claim to be evangelically inclined. Yes, the role is difficult given the politicized nature of of role and the need to serve all religions as well, but can’t we live like Jesus and represent Him and be there to answer spiritual questions of men and women who are being challenged in ways few are anymore with life and death on the line? Where are the evangelicals in the army? Want to reach millennials? A lot of them are in the army. Want to reach men? A LOT of them are in the army! End rant…

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 25, 2016 at 4:53 am

      Go do > come see. Thanks Oliver.

    • Adam Shields on August 22, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      You can’t be a chaplain in the US army without an MDiv and a denomination that is credientialling you.

    • Mason miles on February 20, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      Come on somebody!!! Honestly I completely agree with your Oliver. God says in the Acts 2 that he will pour his spirits out in the end times and that sons and daughters will prophecy. We are in the greatest time of the harvest and revival is here! I’m not just saying this either. I am 18 and I am seeing God pour his spirit out among the youth and he is stirring a hunger and thirst for righteousness in them. We are living in a time of revival and God is rising up an Army!!!!

  8. Aaron on July 20, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    As a young priest in the Anglican (Episcopal) tradition down here in New Zealand, I see all of the above trends and observations happening here or already completed here. Though I represent a ‘power broker’ within my tradition I hold no loyalty to the institution and very much desire that we would gather around the mission of Jesus primarily and let the structures and governance be let go of or revised to ensure they meet the needs of the people of God in the service of God. I am constantly fending off moves to get me politically and governmentally involved in the institution but this will take me and the people I journey with away from our purpose to exist. Thank you for this article.

  9. Alan Knuckles on July 19, 2015 at 6:57 am

    I want to challeng one issue. That is the definition of the word “revival”. “Revival Meetings”, which are events just put on a calendar, are truly dead. But the process of bringing a group of people together with a plan designed to gain their attention and focus it on God is not dead. We have lost the knowledge of how to do “revivals”. If the leadership will direct their congregation in a well thought through plan of prayer both for the believers and for the lost in the community that gathers their focus and concentrates it on the face of God, “revivals” can be very effective. They can be the catalist that brings “turn around” in a group of believers. Unfortunately today we are not willing to put the effort in to planning out these important and necessary processes. Therefore we lack focus. We simply trash them as ineffective. The problem is not that this process is ineffective but we have lost the knowledge in how to pull it off. The young pastors who are bold enough to give it a serious chance find long term results. Unfortunately most calendar a “revival”. They bring in a speaker on a certain date. They announce it a few times and have no results. Then they trash it. That is one of the tragedies of today’s church. Believe me, well done, planned, prayed through “revivals” still work.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 21, 2015 at 4:50 am

      Thanks Alan. I don’t disagree. My simple argument was that there are fewer and fewer believers every year, so a revival isn’t going to work with new people—there’s nothing to revive. We need more like an introduction. Just a new strategy.

      • Greg on February 9, 2021 at 12:56 am

        Only a true Holy Ghost revival ever works. It is something that cannot be planned only prayed for. When the power of God falls it changes hearts and whole areas . It spreads to surrounding churches line a fire. Look into the Great awakening, welsh revival, Azusa st. Brownsville, Toronto etc

    • Joseph on August 21, 2019 at 11:58 am

      Revival still works great if planned effectively. We make it focus on God not on us nor the church. Engage the congregation by talking and planning, well Announcement and great publicity.

      • Michael Bassett on September 7, 2019 at 2:36 pm

        I think some of you are missing Carey’s point about revival. Think about the word itself. Re (again) vive (from Latin for “I live”). In an increasingly post Christian culture there won’t be nearly as many people who we can call back to faith (even if it was nominal). In other words we will be engaged in the work of “Vival” or calling people to trust in Christ who may have never heard of Christ or the message of the gospel. Imagine breathing into someone to perform CPR vs God breathing life into Adam. One was formerly living, the other was formerly clay. We need to scrap old methods while still clinging to the unchanging message.

  10. Ricardo 'Reason' Butler on December 27, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Amen to that!

  11. Richard Gault on December 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    The reason people do not come to the church in our culture is our God seems to be a wimp. No book of Acts power encounters. God always works with a remnant. Ground zero was with 120 Saints. The rest is history. If you get book of Acts miracles you will get the hungry to come in. They will change the world.

  12. Malachi3 on December 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Good word, but revival is NOT dead. It just does not mean a “succession of meetings on non-church nights.” That never really was revival anyway. Revival means to live again, or WAKE UP! You don’t find it mentioned in the Word, but you do find “Shaking.” It’s a 3 stage process. 1. Revival (shaking – Dead church wakes up). 2. Outpouring of the Spirit. 3. Harvest! That’s the thing our Father is looking for.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 26, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks for this! I think you might have missed the point of the article. Revival assumes there is something to revive. Israel could have had a revival in the first century. The Gentiles could not have—there was nothing there to revive. Faith was new. It called for a new mode of evangelism.

      • Malachi3 on December 26, 2014 at 2:03 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Carey. I agree with you, and I apologize if I circumvented your point to spout a bit. I am in New England now, the veritable heart of secular humanism. I am sure I am here for a reason. Prior to this, I spent two years in the buckle of the Bible Belt. I spent most of my evangelistic time convincing “Christians” that it was all about faith in Jesus plus nothing. Went to many “revivals” there and it was usually a few nights of special preaching… My main thought is we have so much wrong because of the misuse of words…., revival being one (“church” being another). Everyone there seems to want “revival.” I know the Father wants to reignite His Church, for the purpose of the saints going out to do the work of the ministry. Parable after parable taught that He wants a big family. That is the work we are called to do.
        Anyway, thank you for your many thought provoking posts. God bless your ministry. If I can ever be of any help, please let me know! Fred

        • Carey Nieuwhof on December 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm

          I love your evangelical heart. And I think on the things you describe, we agree. Thanks!

          • Malachi3 on December 26, 2014 at 2:58 pm

            Also, as to the Bible Belt, as well as everywhere else I have traveled, there are hundreds of church buildings with wonderful architecture and “to die for” stone and brick work. Most of them have 3-10 regular attenders because they never changed with trends. And I don’t mean watering down the Word. Give me a store front and a great multi-media setup with a power trio based praise rock band, and I will show you a fellowship FULL of young people. In fact I attend one in Connecticut right now.



          • Theo on March 31, 2015 at 1:32 pm

            Fred, where would that be? I live in CT, too



          • Ryan Peter on February 25, 2017 at 5:10 am

            I think the youth’s attraction to the rock band set up is also dying. I don’t think this will work much longer to be honest. It has lost its authentic quality.



    • Leslea Fargnoli on May 8, 2019 at 10:45 am

      AMEN!!!

    • Leslea Fargnoli on May 8, 2019 at 10:50 am

      AMEN! the traditional use of the word “Revival” and the way the “Church” has set to use it is what is dead! Without the Breath of God (Holy Spirit) in a Church and in a believers life, or even a “pre-Christian’s” life, there is no LIFE….it is the Holy Spirit that draws unbelievers, AWAKENS believers, and makes LASTING changes that affect the world.

      • Sheila Beers on July 27, 2019 at 5:58 pm

        I agree with Leslea Fargnoli 100 percent. Tactics will not draw and win people, but the Holy Spirit and God’s Word WILL. I once attended a church in which the pastor thought the area youth would respond to a special service with live Christian rock musicians. A crowd of young people came, enjoyed the cook-out, and listened and danced to the Christian rock music. They never came back for another service although it was geared for them. Why? The Holy Spirit was not leading them or else they would not LET the Holy Spirit lead them.

  13. Bruce Davis on December 22, 2014 at 11:23 am

    For what it’s worth, you’re describing a reality that has been in place for a goodly amount of time now–and not just in the North East. The denominations all talk about wanting young people, but be careful what you wish for. It’s challenging enough to engage young professional people in the local church, and the entire denominational thing makes little if any sense to them, particularly given the one way flow of resources.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 22, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      Absolutely. Canada (and the NW and NE) are the canaries in the coal mine.

  14. Dan Roth on December 22, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Great article. For those of us in the USA, I think much of it could be summed up by saying, “The rest of the USA is starting to look like what the North East has looked like for at least 20 years.”

  15. Guest on December 22, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Great article.
    I think this could all be summed up by, “The rest of the USA is starting to look like what the North East and the West Coast have looked like for at least 20 years.”

  16. Kevin Mast on September 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    The Future is Now. In my context, we’re already seeing people self-organize into churches without any training, experience, or — ahem — oversight or accountability. In our own church community, we’re already delivering teaching, structuring programming, and communicating in ways that, while sharing some similarities with traditional “church”, looks and feels way different. I think you only eluded to the main issue in your first point: Jesus didn’t call us to build churches. He sent us to go and make disciples. Then, disciples will organize into gatherings (churches). In the future, the invitational approach to church programming won’t work anymore; the Church needs to Go and make disciples. The Future is Now.

  17. ralph juthman on August 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for the insite. And for those who think being in a small rural Ontario community that these points do not matter, think again. I have faced, for the first time in my liufe not having a sunday morning childrens program. This is for two reasons. One Any younger couples with kids are flocking to the larger city churches down the highway where they have all the paid staff. And secondly, in my community, any kids we hope to reach are either visiting cusotdial parents or in hocky. We are being forced to change how and when we do kids ministry, which for now is thursday evenings. The challenge now is to somehow engage the parents who presently will not even walk up the steps of the church.This is an eye opening and at the same time challenging article, Thatnks for posting.

  18. Tjackson on June 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you for pointing churches toward reality.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 3, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Appreciate that. We sometimes live in delusion, don’t we?

  19. John Henry Raskin on February 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    As a volunteer Chaplain for the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission for
    the past 17 years, I can say with conviction that it is true that
    Spirit-led ministry that is not tied to loyalty to denominations or
    church buildings is already what Jesus IS DOING in the world today. I
    agree with you Carey, that church leadership will and should no longer
    come from academia-based seminaries. It is from the living Body of
    Christ that the Spirit will awaken, enliven, and equip the saints
    Himself and raise up shepherds to lead the flock in His Way. Praise
    Him!

    Where I encourage you not to be concerned, is that it will
    not be for the formal “church” to ” get them educated in scripture and
    theology” but the hunger for His Word will drive them on. I gave my
    life as a Jewish man to Jesus at 43 years old and immediately started to
    read His Word voraciously. I preach five days a week to, and love and
    pray constantly with a large flock of poor people in the San Fernando
    Valley in California, and I count myself the most blessed pastor to have
    responsibility for many tender lambs and to have NO responsibility for a
    building just as Jesus Himself did. I am blessed to be allowed to
    evangelize, raise up soldiers and encourage the saints, all in the
    context of the Will and Body of Christ. The Rescue Mission and it’s
    church partners here provide showers, clothing and food daily to go with
    the Word of God delivered hot and fresh and in the full power of the
    Holy Spirit.

    “Seeker sensitivity” in today’s church has led many
    professional modern Pharisees to attempt to build religious empires by
    keeping true seekers perpetually seeking and never truly worshipping
    through submission to His living daily Word in each of their hearts.
    They give them some good teaching but no CONTEXT of ministry on which to
    serve outside of the church “building”, which is crucial to building
    faith, love and Holy character in the saint.)

    Christianity was never meant to be a world religion (see James’ comments- James 1:27)
    but rather a living organism that works together with the Mind of
    Christ to “work all things together for good to those who love Him and
    are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28). These ambitious
    churches tend to lead the flock astray to seek a relationship with God
    for their own benefit rather than God’s Glory, and the multiple
    translations outside of KJV/NKJV hastens that process. (to wit: NKJV
    says for Prov 16:3 – “Commit your works unto the Lord and your thoughts
    will be established” NIV, NASB, ESV, etc. say s version of “commit your
    works unto the Lord and YOUR plans will succeed.” Personally, I do not
    want MY plans to “succeed” but rather to know and DO the Will of God
    through the wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit. Let me know your
    thoughts about that Carey.

  20. […] (love you, Tim!) and other times it’s been a more general prayer. Churches need good leaders. A recent blog post suggests that future pastors will be not coming from seminaries, though. That could be true. I know […]

  21. newgirl on January 28, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Something that has “died out” in a lot of churches has been the idea of a “bus/car” ministry to pick up kids. Some parents don’t mind their kids going to church as long as someone else takes them. If the children get picked up and they enjoy church, they will talk about it when they get home. If the children want to keep going to church, make friends, attend church functions, pray for their parents, eventually the parents themselves will hopefully want to attend with their children.

    • Laree on June 8, 2019 at 1:12 am

      So true, and good idea.

  22. Barry Jude on January 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Carey, thanks for this piece! You usually make me think (really think), and sometimes in a uncomfortable way, as one who was traditionally trained, college, seminary master’s & doctorate, and 30+ years of pastoring. However, five years ago, I stepped out of a large, traditional church, and started a new congregation, and I constantly battle with my training and former thinking, and being visionary for our church in this new turf culture. Keep up your good ministry, and stretching peeps like me!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 30, 2014 at 8:09 am

      Hey Barry…that’s courage. Good for you! Thanks for being bold.

  23. Judy Keech on January 28, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    So true that our culture has shifted and is continuing to shift. Someone recently asked us what was the “church culture” in our area, to which we sadly replied, “there isn’t one.” Seeking God about these very issues has resulted in us taking our church in a different direction, rethinking how we’ve always “done” church and moving forward to be all about our prime directive from God (every church has one, and ours is to create true worshipers). As a result, we have recently founded an internationally focused ministry called Worship Mission: School of Worship & Worship Journeys. You said it, the mission is bigger than all of us! And we are expecting to see loyalty in our people for this mission. Thank you so much for the confirmation!

  24. micahfoster on January 23, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I’ve heard the #4 one so many times and it’s just not true that young people with kids flock back to church. The truth is, it’s easier to sleep in and do your own thing as a parent. You have to make a huge effort to get those kids to church.

  25. Samuel Lawson on January 22, 2014 at 1:36 am

    We’ve killed revivals by limiting the work God would do in the community by too narrow of a definition. I always was dubious of revivals; someone always seemed to get famous when there was a big one. Revival is when people start caring and raise the priority of working together to do the work God that has laid out for us; all the while recognizing the infinitely immanent presence of God, which provides the fuel to keep going. The fundamentalist right has worn out the term, and extremism has run its course. It would be interesting to see what a revival of the middle or left would look like. I happen to think moderation and unceremoniously practising the presence of God is pretty bleeding exciting. Brother Lawrence, had he an internet connection, would need not change a word of his famous essays. A revival whereby people start recognising God in their everyday lives, minute-by-minute, taking it down the pub, the office, even on the internet, living each moment with God, the God who loves all and whose only commandment was for us to do the same. I think that would be very powerful, subversively discrete; Would we even know it was happening? Does God need us to know it’s happening? A real revival from which a lasting movement would emerge from the rational church might be recognisable only in hindsight.

  26. Pastor Wilson on January 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Wow, did that last post convict you enough to delete the comment? so be it…. delete away, will not bother you again, I thought this was open to comments. But you can never delete the Word. God speed…

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 18, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      You actually never left another comment. But by the sound of this one it appears you’ve got a bit of an edge. Play nice my friend.

  27. Rick Brownbill on January 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Great article. Thank you, Carey. I think that the “Sunday morning teaching institution” we currently call Church is already being replaced with other options for those seeking to experience their spirituality. People who want to see and taste what they are reading 24/7 on the internet will look for 24/7 marketplace type prayer houses, drop-in centres, harp and bowl nightclubs and – eventually – Holy Spirit miracle houses. People are no longer willing to confine their need for instant knowledge to a Sunday morning preach / teach session. The focus in these places will be on evangelism / outreach rather than on teaching the masses. We will still need the Church to equip, edify and encourage the Saints, but, even the teaching will become more outward, and less inward directed.

  28. […] Revivals Are Dead: 5 Things That Will Never Be The Same Again by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  29. Brian French on January 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I think what we’re seeing is an Acts 6 shift and the specialization of pastoral staff roles. The seminary will still be helpful for training in understanding God’s Word and an experience of focused prayer. I also find it interesting that the higher the theological degree, the more traditional the pastoral role. Right now bible colleges tend to focus on training people to see their work (mostly secular) as ministry, which is a good shift. Seminaries are now the doorway for pastoral staff in the traditional roles (preachers; missionaries), but it’s not limited to that. Doctoral programs and PhD’s take the traditional role even deeper through training in specific niche areas.

    I don’t see the seminary going away, because a seminary can provide tools and perspective that can be forgotten in a local context.

    TLDR; it’s now going to cost a lot of money for education to be a traditional pastor. 🙂

  30. Brett H on January 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    30,000 people at IHOP-KC One Thing Conference. They teach good old fashioned prayer & worship, mission, prophetic. Pray for revival and awakening. Prayer is the answer.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 17, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      I’m really excited for the 30,000 people. But I think you missed the point. Tens of millions are walking away. There is nothing to ‘revive’ in them. It’s going to require a whole new experience.

      • Robin Aldrich on August 16, 2014 at 11:23 pm

        YOURS TO DISCOVER …..

        Mr Robin Aldrich writes: I believe that where a Holy-Spirit filled Pastor AND his staff AND his congregation are seeking to discover and implement God’s Plan and Vision, for THAT individual and localised body of Believers, then the Saviour Christ Jesus will be lifted up in that congregation and community, and the Kingdom of God revealed in their midst.

        It will not be a clone of another local body; it will not be the fulfilment of a 7 step plan or a 5 step plan o…r whatever, or any man’s judgement .

        Let God be God in His Unique Way in that Unique Community. The Word of God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit will bear out the validity of that work. I travelled once alone with the late great Scottish Revivalist, Rev. Duncan Campbell of the Hebrides and earlier revivals , when I was a student at the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh, Scotland. ( McConnaughie AndrewPatricia will remember that occasion ). Campbell’s constant testimony was to a ‘Gracious and Sovereign moving of the Spirit in the Highlands’ and he longed for a repeat of the same. The Scottish Isle of Lewis was unique in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The revival was unique and for that occasion only in it’s demonstration. He didn’t think too much of ‘pentecostalism’, and I’m sure my immaturity as a relatively new Christian didn’t give him too much incentive to change his mind. However, change his mind he did before his ‘Promotion to Glory’ . He rejoiced in the New Wine and New Wineskins that God was Sovereignly revealing in the subsequent decades. We thank God for Campbell and many others ‘faithful to the vision’ which God revealed to THEM as individuals in fulfilling His purposes. God has a Vision for each local body of Christian believers.

        As the motto of my Canadian Province of Ontario challenges on our vehicle licence plates:
        “Yours to Discover”
        Robin Aldrich

    • Harmony on January 8, 2021 at 3:48 pm

      Brian ,I love what there doing at KC -IHOP is doing what could be better than 24 hour prayer and worship! As here on earth as it is in Heaven ! This is what we need now ! This is the time to be all in or not in at all ! We definitely need to be shining lights ! As one ! I hop has inspired me to want to do 24 hour worship . We have a IHOP here in Washington state it is A good church of course no 24 hr prayer And worship but there is intercession prayer a for a rew hours , few days a week ! Not much open here though im currently going to a home church and SDA church to get my fellowship with believers!

      Ps . To Auther thank you for your Article it sparked some Great Answers, Thank You!

  31. Christoph Koebel on January 16, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    right now read “Prepare your Church for the Future” by Carl George. It is about 25 years old. But he says similar stuff. Good 5 points. Now about seminaries will die. Could it be that these instructors are so out of touch with church reality that they “produce” useless ministers?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Christoph…I don’t think any seminary entirely produces “useless” ministers, but for sure we need to change. And Carl George has some tremendous things to say.

  32. A.J. on January 16, 2014 at 10:44 am

    How true that is! I left the music ministry at our congregation because of some of the things you mentioned. There is hardly any ‘under 50’ people attending anymore and we are getting frustrated with the way we are right now. Any successful congregation thrives because they worship in a joyful experience because they center god in their worship rather than what is ‘right’ for them. It’s a big challenge for us as well as many other congregations as well. I hope that there will be a great revival someday soon and there will be full churches once again!

  33. Ann Gilchrist on January 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    “BAM.” Adaptation is necessary! In the case of our small rural church, it’s going to be a matter of figuring out how to best adapt, and how to convince the elder statespersons that the adaptations are not the END of all that is good.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 16, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      I think Ann when you focus on the why behind the what, things change.

  34. Lawrence W. Wilson on January 15, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    True. Scary. On the other hand, this could be a far greater opportunity to define and extend the church than our parents or grandparents ever had. As to what won’t be the same, the old order of evangelism & discipleship. Used to be “Get saved. Change your life. Join the church. Find a place in ministry.” I think that order may be almost exactly reversed.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 16, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      You’re right Lawrence. Belonging often now precedes believing.

      • Brooke Willson on December 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Which is actually the ancient pattern — people were immersed as children in the culture of faith, and incorporated it through a lifetime. The pietistic notion that one must have some salvation experience before becoming active in a faith community is relatively recent. American evangelicals need to learn that the vast majority of contemporary Christians in the world, not to mention in Christian history, did not come to faith as the result of a dramatic conversion experience. Yes, some people do have that experience, but John Wesley talked about the prevenient grace that prepares the way — faith never comes ex nihilo. As one of my seminary teachers said, “All those people yelling ‘One Way!’ are right: their way is one way.”

        • Carey Nieuwhof on December 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

          It is the ancient pattern Brooke…I wonder if one of the changes we are going to see in our culture. The idea of being steeped in faith works in a culture or family that is sincerely Christian, but in an increasingly post-Christian world, I think the number of conversion experiences we’ll see will rise. I think some of the greats in history have also had personal conversion experiences when they understood the faith to be one thing and then realized it was something else entirely (i.e. Luther). Good things to think about.

          • Brooke Willson on December 23, 2014 at 10:28 am

            Agreed. And let’s stop thinking of “conversion experiences” as once-in-a-lifetime events: I’ve been converted many times in my faith journey (vocation, race, sexuality, environment, poverty, etc.), and look forward to many more. Faith is not binary — “believers” and “unbelievers” — it is a continuum. That would be helpful in working with the . . . let’s call them “unchurched” for the purposes of this thread. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”



    • Brian French on January 17, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      This insight is absolutely brilliant. Thanks for sharing that.

  35. Rachel on January 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I understand what you mean

  36. Mike H. on January 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    You are soooooo on track here. We’re so ready to see these “shifts” manifest. Thanks!

  37. Scott on January 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    #3 is going to be very important in a short period of time. The answer is going to found in the congregations themselves. Each congregation is going to have to find ways to train up the future. For too long we have “hired” out Biblical learning to a few institutions instead of making it part of our local mission. Where the rise of the executive patio position has become a part of the mission, we are going to have to see a transformation of the discipleship ministry in congregations. How we disciple needs to cchange. The church grew once without seminaries. It will have to once again.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      I think a seminary style education is excellent for training people in bible and theology and other skills like preaching. We just have to figure out how to reconfigure it.

      • Christoph Koebel on January 16, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        another problem is many “long-term” Pastors lost the skills in preaching long ago

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.