9 Things That Will Still Be True for Your Church in 10 Years
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Leaders always attempt to anticipate what is going to change, so they can prepare for those changes in their organizations.
Great church leaders are like sailors who are reading the breezes and adjusting the sails to catch the winds of change. While we worry about the latest social media trend or where music in the church is headed or if it’s possible to train robots to do pastoral care, we also need to invest in what we know will remain true and build our ministries, systems and approaches around that. Here are some areas where our churches can have impact for a long time to come!
- Parents Will Still Worry About Kids // Investing in a thriving ministry to families is one of the smartest things any local church can do. There is always a new wave of young parents trying to figure out how to deal with sleep deprivation and raising kids and every year there are parents who are dealing with their first-year high schooler. These anxieties aren’t going anywhere! What can your church do to help build a ministry to families that will attract and impact them for years to come?
- The Next Generation Will Matter More // 10 years ago there was a lot of conversation about reaching the Gen-X generation … today we’re all worked up about reaching the millennials … in 10 years’ time we will be worrying about reaching the next generation. This is a good thing. The church is just one generation away from being totally obsolete. We need to be perpetually looking to the people coming after us and build our churches for them, not us. If we don’t, our churches will literally start dying off.
- Marriages Will Be Struggling // Being married is tough. The broader culture doesn’t reinforce healthy relationships. People will continue to struggle with what it means to have a healthy and growing marriage. An innumerable amount of hours will be spent talking about how marriages are going off the tracks. What is a systematic response to helping people not just survive their marriages but thrive in them?
- The Bible Will Need Explanation // Let’s be honest … sometimes the Bible is hard to understand. It’s an ancient text written thousands of years ago in a Middle Eastern agricultural society. Modern society is increasingly urban and more distant from the cultural context in the Bible. We’re going to continue to need clear and compelling explanations of the Bible and its relevance for us today. Our task is to make it understandable for today and the future!
- People Will Be Self-Obsessed // We’re all selfish and, at the core, that is the problem with humanity. We choose our own path rather than the path that helps others. We are most interested in ourselves and our problems. Our churches will continue to need to deal with this reality. Often people come to church for “selfish” reasons — they’re looking to gain spiritual insights or wanting to make friends, etc. Our goal is to help people move beyond that. How are we working to build a ministry that helps people look beyond themselves?
- The Poor Will Be Among Us // Poverty is a persistent global problem. The church is called to be the agent of change to help poor people. It’s been central to what the church “does” since our inception … and we’ll still be called to do that 10 years from now. How are you working to build a ministry that actually tackles poverty in a measured and systematic way?
- Gathering Together Will Still Matter // Even in an increasingly “digital world” where we spend more time connecting with each other through computers, we will still crave being together. Humans are made to connect with each other and in the future we will continue to have an impulse to gather together. The value of gathered events will shift from being primarily information dispensing to inspiration generating. How are you investing in your gathered experiences to improve their effectiveness with your community?
- You’ll Be Stressed About Stuff // Leadership is stressful. Always has been … always will be. You’ll have more to do on your list than you can do. There won’t be enough time at the end of the week for what is left on the list. You’ll be tempted to self-medicate with food, brain-numbing media or some other more destructive tool. Your body will be 10 years older and you’ll be more physically limited than you are today. What positive rhythms are you picking up now to help you serve over the long haul?
- The World Will Be Smaller // Technology is shrinking the world. Skype is just over 10 years old and has revolutionized global communication by making it easy and cheap. People work on global teams where they manage (or are managed by) people from all over the world. It used to be that only “missionaries” needed to deal with cross-cultural communication realities, but it has become the norm and will become even more prevalent in the future. How can we develop ministries that help people live with this global reality? Our churches are local, but what we are doing to help people live a global life?
Rich, thanks for thinking like this!
I think one of the biggest things facing the church right now is that people are realizing that culture isn’t just going to “come around” to us anymore. We’ve been riding waves for a while now, and need to realize the bigger issues at play that are timeless. One of the gifts of the church is to speaking into these eternal issues.
Specifically, I think about our concern for the next generation. If we just ride the next wave, we’ll have to keep shifting. What I’ve been thinking about is how we can bring younger people into the “core” of our community, rather than just serve them as a market. I think this would allow us to always move, and always help them be wise as they grow.
So I have a question for you Rich – How have you seen churches move from managing demographics and markets, to being timeless communities?
Great post, Rich. Spot on. No need to add anything else to this list, but I will for fun:
In 10 years, what is such a big deal to us as church leaders today will be less of a concern, but something new will present itself and generate a new firestorm of fear. Pastors and church leaders will make ridiculous public statements and push the wedge further between those of faith and those outside of faith. In 10 years, more of us in church leadership will need to learn how to interact with culture in a meaningful, relational fashion if we hope to engage them. If Jesus was right an the entire law of the prophets hangs on loving God and loving others, we will need to discover a fresh approach to make loving God and loving other a higher priority than making points through public statements.
Sorry, one more: Every generation will struggle to reach the next generation while they are in their twenties. It’s always the case, not necessarily because they are a new generation, but because they are in their twenties. Younger adults do not have a felt need for God as much as married with kids adults. That is ultimately our issue reaching the next generation. I’m not suggesting we abandon our efforts to engage twenty-somethings, but I am suggesting the problem can rectify itself naturally IF we as churches provide fantastic experiences for parents and their children in our church environments.
Great stuff, Rich.
This is great stuff, especially in a culture where Christians are tempted to freak out over changing values and morals.
I love the beauty of the timeless wisdom of Scripture which calls us to simply be faithful. If we truly are a transformed people, being made into better reflections of our perfect Creator, we’ll stand out in any culture as people who walk with peace and hope–and that’s always desirable.
Practically, you make great points for ministry investment. You can’t go wrong investing in kids, families, marriages, and those in need. Great reminders, friend.
Loved the post Rich. My question would be, “What do you see as the next “risky” thing you see churches tackling in the next ten years. At one point it was playing songs we hear on the radio, or having a haze machine. This may be something that will have some churches say, “We will never do that.” But having that stance may have an impact on how much they are attractional to the unchurched.
Thanks for this post Rich! Funny thing is, these items were also true 10 years ago. I love the Church. I love my church. And I love God’s people pushing each other and spurring each other on to look at the big picture and His grand design. Thanks again!
Rich, great post. I think two things which will still be the same are the two biggest issues church leaders will face will be leadership and stewardship. Regarding stewardship, it always takes financial resources to deliver quality ministry. This issue could be heightened if American tax laws change.
Regarding leadership, people are becoming more self-absorbed and our Christianity has become privatized. However, the bigger challenge for church leaders will be self-leadership. Are we willing to prioritize living holy and blameless lives or are we more committed to our freedoms? Are we truly willing to surrender all if need be. The cost for whole-hearted Christian leadership is going up significantly.
Just some thoughts. Thanks again my friend for a great post.
Hey Rich, your stuff is always rich! Love your stuff bro and your style. This post was very insightful and ever so true. This is exactly where I am and now I know that some things I am doing, I will still be doing 10 years from now. Great perspective. See you on periscope soon!
Tom – thanks for the kind words!
Great reminder Rich of what matters as church leaders.
One other thought…Contemporary music will be the music of day…and “traditional” music will always be the music of the generation(s) before us.
What came to my mind was: The gospel will still be offensive (1 Peter 2:7-8). Hopefully, we won’t be.
The gospel has always been an offense. However, with the end to Christendom in America, it will be even more in the forefront of our experience.
Great word for sure!
Fantastic as always Rich!
The things we SHOULD be focused on are right now- not what’s next. But don’t get me wrong- looking ahead is important…but what is in front of us now will still be there 10, 20, 50 years +. I love this refocus & check to remind us of this.
It may go without saying, but the three I would add would be that the world will still be broken, hope will still be important & the gospel will still need preached.
Excellent thinking Rich!
With respect to the future, I find it helpful to remember that where we’ll be tomorrow is determined by what we do today.
If we have concerns about the future, do things now to mitigate them. We all have more power than we think to positively influence what is to come.
Rich, thank you for helping us focus on today by reminding us of what is constant. While much changes rapidly, human hearts remain the same…just the idols change.
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Rich, Great word and timely. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.
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