Vision 2020: What I See Coming
We all know that our world not only has changed and is changing but we are beginning to realize that our world is change. You see, change is no longer the obstacle around which the fish swims, it is the water itself. Many years ago, a wise mentor named Dr. Roderick McLean taught me to read futurists, analyze the world around me, anticipate trends and have a church prepared to be effective once the future arrives. It is the difference between a young soccer player chasing the ball around and a more experienced player learning to anticipate where the ball is going to be. I began to read authors from both business and theology like Faith Popcorn and Leonard Sweet and in time, I began to apply my own sensibilities to anticipate what is about to happen and to follow what is happening to a logical extreme. The skill set has served me well through three decades in ministry. My mantra has been simple, “Don’t play catch up. Get out in front.”
Here is what I see coming as we march toward 2020:
- Trend: People will actively seek community
Implications: Churches must grow larger by getting smaller and giving people places to connect
Getting Ready: More worship times, more small groups, more support groups, more accountability groups on more days in more places
New Mantra: Church isn’t just on Sunday anymore!
- Trend: People will actively seek a sense of purpose
Implications: Churches must engage in community, regional and world transformation
Getting Ready: Unite “doing good things” with evangelism
New Mantra: The church has left the building!
- Trend: Denominations will disintegrate
Implications: Churches must form identity from a clear sense of mission rather than formal affiliation
Getting Ready: Clarify your mission statement, form ties with other congregations of similar size, network outside denomination, realize the death could be painful and potentially distracting
New Mantra: Local branding
- Trend: Lines between clergy and laity become blurred
Implications: Churches and groups will be increasingly led by bi-vocational pastors (ordained or not ordained) as faith groups grow smaller and less defined
Getting Ready: Develop and prepare the laity for opportunities and challenges previously reserved for clergy and staff
New Mantra: Everyone in ministry!
- Trend: Authenticity replaces quality
Implications: Focus on connect and real
Getting Ready: Think original art (even if it is not as good) more than pop imitation (even if it is better quality)
New Mantra: Keep it real!
- Trend: Think organic
Implications: The new macro consists of aggregate micro, home grown ministry and ministers replace “professional” imports
Getting Ready: Experiment, observe, write; let die what is dying, fund what is growing
New Mantra: Add fuel where the fires are hot!
- Trend: Fish the lake
Implications: This is a time of cultural seismic cultural shift; documenting where the fish are NOT biting in this unfamiliar lake is just as helpful as documenting where they ARE biting
Getting Ready: Increase the percentage of young people on your team and listen to them, encourage a culture of risk tolerance and empower risk takers
New Mantra: We are not sure this is going to work but we will try it anyway!
My greatest temptation concerning these trends is to put value judgments on them but this must resisted. The question is not, “Are things going to change?” Things have already changed. The question is, “Is my church prepared to connect people to Jesus Christ?”
These anticipated trends will guide my ministry strategy for the next handful of years at Christ Church. Am I absolutely sure about these trends? Don’t be absurd, of course not.
Rev. Shane L. Bishop, a Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been Sr. Pastor at Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.