Here are eight shifts in orientation that I think are going to be necessary for the Church of tomorrow:
Shift in Emphasis– Less size oriented and more quality oriented
The church has measured itself a lot by nickels and noses–money in the plate and people in the pews. The markers of the church are going to have to change. We cannot church our churches by size. In a post-Christendom world, there are not going to be a lot of large church programs. The new measurement must be quality–churches doing less things and small things that are done well with high personal impact.
Shift in Organization– Less membership oriented more belonging oriented
Churches (and denominations) have prided themselves on their members. The problem today is that I am now a member of 3 grocery stories, 2 rewards clubs, and Netflix. Membership does not mean anything anymore and more people are choosing not to join our churches. I think we need to abandon the term “member” and instead look for belonging. People want to belong–to connect and to feel connected.
Shift in Space– Less building oriented more community oriented
We all say in that the church is not the building but it is the people. Our language betrays us, however, when we meet someone at the church but we don’t say we met the church at the grocery store. Our churches remain too driven by the building. Newer churches are being planted with no facilities or with very simple facilities. More meetings are happening in the community.
Shift in Work– Less program oriented more people oriented
We love our programs in the church. We collect them like Coke memorabilia. We brag about them like grandchildren. But the world is no longer program oriented. The church of tomorrow will care more about individuals. Are they growing in their faith? Is this person connected into our community? Budgets will be more about developing people’s gifts and passions then about developing program.
Shift in People– Less pastor oriented more body oriented
The pastor has tended to be the center of the church. Life revolved around them. Things happened through them. People invited their friends to church to hear their “great pastor.” This is changing and is going to continue to change. Pastors are going to have to be more part time and bi-vocational. The role of the pastor is going to be more teaching and equipping the people. The real center of the church will not be the pastor but the body and how the parts fit together.
Shift in Bible– Less verse oriented more story oriented
The modern church sliced up the Bible and used it primarily as a collection of one liners. We can quote a verse about this topic or a verse about that idea. But the Bible is primarily written in story form. Even the teaching flows out of a narrative. Jesus teaches crowds in specific places. Paul writes to churches with particular problems. The future church will become much more likely to quote stories rather than quote verses. “The Bible tells me so” is no longer an acceptable justification for a position. We must get better at why the Bible says so. We must learn to see ourselves in the stories.
Shift in Faith– Less belief oriented more practice oriented
The church of modernism has been focused on belief–believing the right things and agree to the right set of beliefs. The faith is moving more toward practices. We are moving from what you know to what you do. This includes the application of the gospel to behavior and every day life. It also includes a connection with the spiritual practices of church history.
Shift in Worship– Less style and performance oriented and more authenticity and participation oriented
Worship services today can be categorized by style. People go to the one that fits them best. They leave churches because they are “not being fed” or don’t like the new worship leader–as if church’s purpose was to feed or entertain them. Worship has to change. It has to be an authentic encounter with God. It has to be an experience that people participate in rather than a performance that they take in.