Future Church 1

By: Justin Anderson

The Future of the Church 

Let me state at the outset that I am not optimistic about the future of the church in America. Let me qualify that statement. I feel completely confident in the fact that God is going to do absolutely everything he wants to do and that the church will be just fine. My lack of optimism derives from the ways we’ve done church. The results we’ve experienced as a result of those ways, I believe, are about to come to a dramatic end.

I believe this for a number of reasons, and that’s where this series begins. This is, unfortunately, a bit of a bummer start, but if we cannot accurately and honestly name the problems we’re facing, we have no hope of solving them. If you’re change-averse, this series probably isn’t for you. But if you share my suspicion and eagerness to address the issue at hand, I think you’ll find this series both helpful and encouraging. 

Addressing the Shift 

So, let’s get to it. Why do I think the future is going to be so different from the past? There are various reasons, but we’ll focus on a few key findings I think are at the root of it. Here are my top six: 

  1. Our culture is moving further and further away from biblical truth—and rational sanity, for that matter.
  2. The social internet has caused our world to be more divisive and tribal than at any other point in human history (and it’s only going to get worse).
  3. Generational shifts from Boomers to Millennials to Gen Z bring with them cultural and financial realities that will reshape church staff teams.
  4. As young families have left the church, our children’s and youth departments have diminished and with it, our leadership pipelines have dried up.
  5. Leadership expectations, accountability, and cancel culture have created a very difficult environment for pastors, causing many to leave ministry as a result.
  6. Inflation and the reality that churches have not kept up with the marketplace with regard to pay for pastors.

These six things aren’t going anywhere any time soon. We’ll likely see some pendulum swing in our culture over the next 20 years or so, but that’s a long way away. These forces are changing the way we do ministry—or at least they should be—and those who don’t shift will find themselves without a church.

Some who read this will inevitably say they don’t know what I’m talking about because their church is thriving and growing. First, I’m glad your church is blowing up—thank God! Second, your exception doesn’t change the rule. Church attendance is down, culture is changing, and money is more difficult to find than ever. Be thankful God is bringing fruit to your church, but don’t let it blind you from the changes happening around you. 

The reality is, that many of us are dealing with these issues to one degree or another. I believe there are ways we can get ahead of the changes and be better prepared for them when they come. I want us to be sober-minded about these problems so we can be proactive about solutions.

Each of these emails will tackle a problem and offer tangible solutions. My hope is that as a network, we can learn together about how to do ministry in this changing world. If you have questions or suggestions, please pass them along. I’d love to add a mailbag portion to the videos in the future, so feel free to reply to this email!

See you next week.