There are many indicators that the church in America is teetering on the precipice of uncertain and unsteady future. Attendance is down. Those having no religious preference is up. Resources are down. The clergy is aging. Fewer men and women are seemingly called into vocational ministry. Will governmental restrictions and church taxation impact the church’s mission? The fear and trembling are asking what the church will look like in twenty years? Will there even be a church?
Short answer: The Church (capital “C”) will survive, but many churches (small “c”) will not.
Longer answer: Relevant churches in 2043 will…
1). Preach Jesus. It’s the same message preached since the Resurrection and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.
2). Provide community. Social media has brought us knowledge, but we are less connected to one another. The relevant churches of tomorrow will fill this ever-widening void.
3). Be good neighbors. Being “in the world” means finding and ministering to those the society and culture have forgotten or left behind. The Church has always flourished when it cared for the people on the margins.
4). Emphasize holiness. Being “not of the world” means not being seduced by the cultural downward pull, instead it’s creating a new place of hope in our unholy world.
5). Be intergenerational. The church of tomorrow will honor the voices of the elderly and the young alike.
6). Be less political. In a divided country, to reach 100% (not 50%) of the people we must not cater to any particular political party.
7). Have less resources. The tithe-first generation is dying off. Less in the offering plates and more in taxation equates to smaller buildings and budgets, more bi-vocational pastors and more lay driven ministries.
8). Prioritize prayer. Above all, the church of tomorrow will need to be a praying people. Lose sight of prayer and all the above points will be moot. The complexities of tomorrow’s world will need the creativity of the Holy Spirit.
The mid-21st century Church will look different than today. There will be less clergy, smaller buildings, smaller crowds, smaller budgets, more lay-driven, (hopefully) more holy and will probably look more like the first century church. The Church will survive. Today’s version won’t endure and maybe that’s not all bad.
Beat the rush. Start building a relevant 2043 model of ministry today.
Be alive once more.