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.
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.
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.