Usually I keep my blog posts between 250 and 400 words (about normal for blog posts). This will be a bit longer, but stick with me. I think it will be worth your while, but grab something to drink while you read this. I’ve been waiting to be able to write this for a long time and now feel able to.
I started seminary knowing I had a passion for the local church. I get asked all the time what I want to do after I graduate, and about the only thing I know is that I have a passion for the local church. My prof says that the church is the only instrument in the world God is using right now, so having a passion for that seems to be a good thing (church universal).
I am constantly thinking and praying about what I desire the local church to look like and what I see God doing in the local church as it grows in the future. Just ask my wife, she always asks me what is on my mind and that is commonly the answer. When I first started seminary I thought some sort of answer from God would come quickly. Well here I am 2 years in and I barely have an answer, but I’ll share some of my thoughts that are a combination of where I want things to go and where I see things going with the local church.
My opinions on this subject aren’t meant to say that any other “models” for the local church are not as good. They are not to say I don’t like my church or that any church that goes this direction is better. Also, I don’t claim to know how God would have the local church be structured.
- I think local churches will begin to move away from a weekly large gathering of the entire congregation in one location.
- Instead I think churches will meet once a month and on the other weekends the church will meet in homes for small groups and will partner with humanitarian projects in their communities. Instead of relying on a 30 minute message each week, a church could utilize their resources to provide study materials online throughout the week for people to interact with in these weekly meetings.
- These thoughts were confirmed as not just in my own head when Carlos wrote something pretty similar last week.
- I think some churches will choose to go this route as a more effective way to connect believers and non believers to Jesus, but part of it will also be budgets. The current way church is done is very production oriented: a big gathering on Sunday morning with music and one speaker. It costs a lot of money to do that every week.
- The way and amount that people give is changing, something that was confirmed in my thinking by this well thought out post by iMonk (point #7 specifically).
- My generation is following what some would call The Greatest Generation. That previous generation gave to local churches like no generation before. They were and are extremely generous in their giving. My generation doesn’t give as much (not sure why at this point), and when they do give, they give to more than just the local church. They give to relief, water, and child support organizations and consider it part of their tithe (call that good or bad). So I think even without a struggling economy, churches are going to have to re-think putting a large amount of their money towards production Sundays and building funds.
- I see the role of the pastor changing.
- Senior pastors right now typically are involved in decision making and speaking. Those 2 roles are primary. I think in the future a senior pastor will give up some of those speaking responsibilities to be more of a facilitator. Moving away from a Sunday morning only model and into more focus on small groups and house churches within the church. A pastor will focus most of their time towards facilitating those groups, instead of speaking at them.
- Pastors will spend much more time on coming up with material for house churches within the church. This could be filming short videos, creating course materials, leading small groups/houses churches.
- A pastor will also play a key role in either running a community organization within the church or partnering with one outside the church. One of the key changes will be church-wide involvement in community projects locally and globally. No longer will a church hire one pastor to focus on these things, each pastor will have heavy involvement.
- Opportunities for discipleship and spiritual growth will be plentiful.
- As internet use by churches continues to grow, I think all churches will begin to use it as a tool to reach their congregation (and even those not a part of their church) for more interaction outside of house church, the once a month gathering, and beyond any humanitarian efforts.
- The relational aspect of this is high because it allows for more conversation and interaction with weekly small group meetings.
- The traditional mid week classes can remain as a way for people to dive into theology and Bible study in more specific ways. It would also be a great opportunity for the pastors to meet with the house church leaders for prayer and training.
You might be wondering why I think these changes will happen and why I want them to happen. Here are a few quick thoughts on what motivates me in this.
- A church should never be focused specifically on a pastor or on the things happening on the stage on Sundays.
- Most churches cannot pull off a production-oriented Sunday morning service successfully. A focus toward house groups and community service changes the entire look of a church. It puts the focus on discipleship, relational evangelism, and interaction within the body.
- I think a lot of churches allow people to become lazy Christians. So many people go to church on Sunday and it never sinks in deeply, and I wonder if it is because the current “model” for local churches isn’t working for them.
- One thing I have yet to figure out is how these changes can happen and still allow for the church to worship through music consistently. I think my generation is more musical than any other in the past. The iPod is a big reason for this, because everyone listens to music all the time.
I don’t have all the answers and I have zero idea how the future of the local church will play out. These are merely guesses in many ways, guesses that I hope will generate a positive conversation here about what God desires to do with the local church in method in order to reach more people for Himself. You are welcome to completely rip a part my thoughts. I didn’t write this in order to prove myself right, I wrote it to allow a conversation and to allow you to process the future of the local church.
I am only in the beginning stages of putting all this together in my mind and I’d greatly appreciate anything that came to your mind while reading this.
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