By Carey Nieuwhof
reposted with permission
Almost every leader I talk to acknowledges that our culture is shifting.
To reach a changing culture, the church needs to change. Rapidly.
Don't get me wrong, we don't need to change the message. Just the method. One is sacred. The other is not.
What isn't as clear is what the future church will look like, and what kind of characteristics will mark those churches.
However, I think a few trends are becoming clear. Not all of these might be correct, but I think the following eleven traits describe the kind of churches that will have a significant impact a decade from now.
The wise leader is taking steps today to position their church to respond to these things. I know that's what I'm trying to do at Connexus, where I have the privilege of serving.
After reading this list, I'd love your feedback and reaction. Leave a comment outlining what you see and any other trends you're noticing.
Here's what I see as hallmarks of the churches that will make an impact in the next decade:
1. The ability to say no. One of the reasons churches don't change is because leaders are unwilling to say no to current members who prefer things the way they were. When you learn to say no to the preferences of some current members, you learn to say yes to a community that is ready to be reached. (For more on learning to say no, see this post.)
2. Outsider focus. Churches that become passionate about people outside their walls will be far more effective than churches that are passionate about keeping the few people they have inside their walls. Better still, you will have a healthier church. We call individuals who are fixated on their wants and needs selfish and immature. Selfless and mature churches will have an impact because of their passion for people God cares about.
3. Quick decision making. Can your church or organizations make quick decisions? If not, amend your constitution so you can. If the congregation needs to vote on everything, just realize this is going to be your achilles heel when it comes to making the changes you need to make.
4. Flexibility. You don't need to change your mission (for the most part), but you do need to change your methods. Flexible and adaptable churches that can innovate around strategy and different initiatives will have the freedom to make the changes they need to make an impact moving forward.
5. A willingness to embrace smaller to become bigger. Mega-churches will continue to grow, but most of us won't lead mega-churches. When small churches stop trying to be mega-churches, good things can happen. In fact, more and more larger churches will start embracing smaller venues, locations and partnerships to keep growing. A greater number of smaller venues might be a hallmark of future churches making an impact.
6. A quicker, lighter footprint. I learned this phrase from my friend Rich Birch (you should read his blog). Churches need a quicker, lighter footprint to grow. If you're waiting for millions to build your building, you might wait forever. Get innovative and start looking at portable and non-traditional ways of growing your ministry. Quicker, lighter footprints will be necessary (see this Leadership Network article for more on innovate, inexpensive building alternatives).
Come back soon to read about the five other trends!
Carey is the lead and founding pastor of Connexus Community Church and has been serving in ministry since 1995.
Connexus Community Church