Before I left for vacation, I connected with several of my friends in ministry to ask them about the trends they are seeing in ministries. I thought it might be helpful to begin the year focusing on the future of the church. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share thoughts from folks like Brad Lomenick, Ed Stetzer, John Saddington, Jenni Catron and John Ortberg among others. Today, I’ll begin with Sam Chand.
For those of you not familiar with Sam, he’s a leadership coach, mentor and consultant and works for many of the largest churches across the country. He provided this list of trends that he’s seeing in churches:
- Staffing — Churches are reducing paid staff and increasing unpaid staff. Many if not most churches became overstaffed in better financial times. Churches are redefining “volunteerism” as to how they are “recruited” with intentionality and the very caliber of the recruit is vetted carefully along with fulfilling assignments—usually short-term.
- Transitions — Senior Pastors especially are wondering about their next chapter of life. They want to remain engaged but not with all that comes with leading a megachurch.
- Succession — This is the tsunami that has started hitting the U.S. church in particular. I’ve written a whole book on this: Planning Your Succession. However, over 80 percent of churches are not prepared or even preparing!
- Technology — The evolution of technology has always been there, but now, the pace of innovation has pastors preaching with iPads and power points are so 90s. Keeping up the pace may not be sustainable for churches when it comes to “ready—lights—action”.
- Non-Denominational Organizations and Fellowships — Denominations are pretty well marginalized and declining. Even those who belong to them see them as irrelevant—hence, the multitude of “fellowships” and “groups” with common causes and diversity in all other things.
- Non-Member Regular Attendee — This is the fastest growing tribe that I have been talking about. These non-member regular attendees will come to the same church for years and not become members. They contribute financially and attend regularly and remain low-maintenance, but will not join. Churches that draw from the membership pool for leadership will find that pool shrinking and this pool increasing with HUGE implications.
- Development vs. Training — Training is about a task whereas development is about a person. Churches are realizing they have highly trained and poorly developed leaders with built in low ceiling and capacity.
- Pastor’s Family Time — Boomers didn’t pay as much attention to their families as the younger pastors are thus skewing the expectations of church boards who still remain predominantly boomers.
- Graying of America — The number of people older than 65 in the U.S. will continue to increase creating a larger gulf in how church is processed.