Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thoughts about the American Church in 10 years

I've been reflecting on the changes that have taken place in our Culture in this decade.

Now I'd like to reflect on the changes that I believe will take place in the Church in the next decade.

Here are some of the trends we already see in people:

People are coming to church less often
Many "consume" going to the church that has the latest and greatest....preaching, worship, youth group, you name it.
Loyalty to denominations are very low
Kids coming out of youth group who go to college often leave the church altogether
A significant number of people are biblically illiterate
Giving patterns are trending more towards "causes" than church budgets
People listen to several voices through podcasts, radio, etc.

Here are some of the trends we see in churches:

a movement towards multi site congregations
a desire to become missional
laying off of staff from economic downturn
naming churches without identifying denominational affiliation
fewer leaders are seminary trained

So, with these trends, what will change?

I see a church in 10 years that will look very different than we know now.

It will be very dispersed, with communities meeting all over the cities in various locations, but rather invisible to the regular eye.
People will have significantly more ownership over their faith; taking responsibility for their own practices, rather than looking to a church to form them for them.
Money will be used to support missio projects, but won't go through the pipeline of a church budget because the church will be much looser in organization but stronger in mission and commitment.
I believe the church will almost be "underground" because the culture will have become so hostile to those who stand for God's truth and practices.
I see a sorting out of those who are willing to pay a cost for their faith, standing on principles and fighting the wave of tolerance, but doing it in love to the individual; with those that move with the mainstream culture and end up not having a stance for anything.
Many faithful pastors will leave the profession because of the challenge but also the financial restraints.
Many leaders will do "tent ministry" because the days of the professional pastor are coming to a close.
I see a church that is being refined by "fire" that gets smaller in number but infinitely stronger in faith than today.
I see a grassroots connection between the different "outposts" established through relationship.
I see many people with no church experience or religious background coming to Jesus because of the purity of the faith that they see in everyday people living a lifestyle like Jesus.

Jesus came to a world that was very polarized, where spiritual freedoms were limited by the government, and a church that was very religious and legalistic.

He taught his disciples how to operate within that culture, and if we study what they did, we can learn to live that way too.

The world is shifting but the opportunities for the church, if we are willing to bend and move with flexibility, are wide open.

I personally am looking forward to a day when those who commit to follow Christ recognize the cost, as well as the challenge, but decide that following Jesus is worth giving our whole life to live.

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