August 18, 2010 Tony Morgan

3 Cultural Trends Impacting Church Leadership

I recently had the opportunity to connect with Brian Orme, the General Editor of, a new site especially for ministry leaders, that launched this week. I asked him to talk about some of the trends he’s seeing with church leadership. Here’s what Brian had to share.

The flow of culture affects the church, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The way we connect—how we give and receive information, our style and habits of living—is all a part of culture. As ministry leaders, we need to identify cultural movements, discerning which trends will help us have greater impact and which trends are dangerous, self-centered, and hurtful. Here are my observations of three cultural trends influencing ministry leaders today—it’s my list of what’s “in” and what’s “out” in church leadership.

In: Influence  Out: Power  Way Out: Board Meetings (Robert’s Rules of what?)

Our culture values people who make a difference—those who get things done with their creative ideas and powerful personal networks. For better or worse, our culture won’t value a leader for his/her respective position as much as for merit.This means simply holding a leadership position isn’t enough; leaders need to build credibility. There’s a biblical backing to this cultural movement: “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different…” (Matthew 20:25, 26). Influence is in, and power plays are out.

In: Creativity  Out: Corporate Way Out: Red Power Ties (they don’t go well with graphic Ts, anyway)

Our church is a body, a family, a bride—this is understood by church leaders. But we might even call it something else, especially today as we value start-ups and grassroots movements as much as corporate thinking and institutions. Just check out the rising number of nonprofits and NGOs in the last few years. The NGO sector is now the eighth largest economy in the world. And, dare I say, nonprofits are the new parachurch. Our society wants to be a part of something forward-thinking, creative, and at times, sacrificial. By nature, the mission of Christ is a grassroots effort (fueled by the Holy Spirit), inviting people to be a part of a better story—one they were made for. The rise of creative culture gives us an opportunity to rebrand the church as it was originally designed: as a movement.

In: Networks  Out: E-mail Way Out: Meet-Ups (this includes name badges)

Networks allow us to connect with others seamlessly and—more importantly—on our own terms. In our society, we are hyper-related but under-connected. There are some solid benefits to building strong networks (can you say global ministry?), but many of the connections we make aren’t making us better at relationships or taking us deeper spiritually. Facebook is a prime example: It’s a powerful tool that can enhance deeper connections, or just foster our lust for belonging.

I would love to hear your comments or any additional trends you feel are affecting church leadership today.  Our team is working and praying diligently to make something of great value for every ministry leader. On the site you’ll find over 3,000 resources—and more added daily—to help you lead better. (Check out our list of freebies).

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and
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