Recently I sat down to lunch with a member of our church. As we sat there discussing life, current events and the church, he made a comment that I won’t soon forget. He told me that he would hate to be a pastor and try and foresee what sorts of trends were coming before they arrived.
As ministry leaders, we try and predict new trends on the rise and, if we can, take advantage of those trends. We make hundreds of calculated guesses, and if we can get even a handful of them correct, we tend to reap the rewards. Therefore, in an effort to try and catch the newest trends as quickly as possible, here are 5 to be planning for:
This model has been made famous by the church planting organization called the Association of Related Churches (ARC). Growth Tracks are essentially new members classes that have taken on a new look and have been rebranded in a way to make it easy for the average attendee to go from casual consumer to devoted contributor. On average, Growth Tracks utilize 4 meetings where they move people from foundations of faith, to serving church members. As churches struggle in recruiting volunteers and getting attendees to contribute to the church, this has been the saving grace of many, and is a staple of most of the fastest growing churches in the country to date.
Online and VR Church
Not long ago Judah Smith, pastor of Churchome, dropped a bomb on the Church world by announcing Churchome Global. Churchome Global is what they call their “online campus”. Many of us think online campus and all we think of is a website with links to messages, a podcast church calendar etc. Judah Smith has opted to take all of this to the next level by offering a virtual meeting space for online church members to “fellowship” by connecting online in a virtual lobby. Many churches will undoubtedly follow suit as we enter a generation that is greatly influenced by making connections via technology.
Something that is very much in its infancy is the introduction of VR Church. This takes Churchome’s online experience to even another level by intruding the virtual reality concept. Rather than names on a screen in an online lobby, this utilizes VR headsets to add avatars and more of an immersion into the experience.
Seminary-Styled Leadership Training
Something interesting is happening where a sort of pendulum is swinging, and I predict it will swing the other way fairly quickly. Churches are ditching the priority of theological training in lieu of entrepreneurial-styled leadership practices. Pastors are being thought of less as shepherds and theologians, and more like CEO’s of major business organizations. With that shift, it has become more and more prevalent that church leaders are more well-versed in the latest business practices than they are in theological training. If we are honest, many seminaries fall somewhat short on the investment of practical leadership principles that are sorely needed in today’s churches.
With that being said, and considering the state of our culture, there is going to be a major shift back to serious theological training. This is going to end up being a trend among churches to offer their own seminary-styled training, or partnering with seminaries to offer courses through their church.
Member less Churches
Becoming more and more prevalent is the church attender that has no concern for becoming a member of a particular church congregation. Churches are going to be forced to reconcile with this truth. There are many who will continue to be baptized (usually becoming members by default), and want to find a place to serve, but membership will not be a priority. Ever more than this, there is going to be an ever-growing number of church attendees that attend multiple churches, and consider themselves faithful to all of them.
Simplification of Programming
Something that is going to continue to grow, and most likely will become the majority, are those churches who simplify their programming in order to adjust to a busier, multi-church attendee culture. Many churches still have several types of programs for Sunday morning, programs for Sunday evening and more programming happening on Wednesday nights. Larger churches tend to expand this to other nights of the week as well. However, some churches have begun the simplification and only have midweek programs once per month, and even more have simplified their Sundays to only a couple of programming items.