11 Trends for Churches in 2011

According to Will Mancini, we can expect smaller churches to thrive in 2011, especially those who tap into social media and online technologies. Here’s his list of 11 trends for 2011 and the years to come. Visit his post for more explanation and discussion of each one.

  1. Increasing diversity of opinion about what good vision and strategy look like.
  2. Articulating the biggest picture will be the leader’s greatest asset.
  3. Social media will open new possibilities for more churches.
  4. Visioning and spiritual formation will emerge more visibly as disciplines.
  5. Small will continue to be the new big.
  6. Networks will become the new denominations.
  7. Leaders will pay more attention to shorter time horizons.
  8. The intersection of personal and organizational vision will be magnified.
  9. Visioning will involve making meaning rather than predicting the future.
  10. External focus and biblical justice will stay prominent.
  11. Churches will consult for vision clarity rather than for capital campaigns.

One interesting quote from the article:

Every church leader is saturated with countless best practices, bombarded with more communication, and ministering to people struggling with increasingly complex lives. This gives us a hyper-need for clarity. Communicating Jesus-centered meaning in life has never had more competition. The best leaders won’t take the most basic assumptions for granted.

HT Out of Ur

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on January 29, 2011, in Ministry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. It is striking to me how little you would have to know about Scripture or Jesus to either formulate or act on this list.

  2. #5 – “Small will be the new big.”
    Well, this is certainly the case in terms of budgets, but primarily because of economic factors. Honestly, that one seems recycled. You keep hearing that (for the last 10 years), but big churches aren’t hemorrhaging folks, either, best as I can tell.

    • The push toward “smaller” has certainly been around for a long time now (e.g. small groups), but I’ve run across quite a few people commenting on the new dynamics at work now with the development of multi-site churches. So, I don’t know that it’s a recycled comment so much as new trend for addressing an old challenge.

  3. To add to Mike’s and Marc’s comment: nor biblical truth or doctrine.

    I certainly hope this is not a picture of my church in the future!

  4. I know this is going to sound negative but honestly who comes up with this crap? This has NOTHING to do with what I do day in day out as a pastor!

  5. Here we find another trap in Christian thinking, if someone doesn’t say, “Jesus” or “Bible” they must be wrong.

    One aspect of church is the formulation of a social gathering of a group of people from a particular geographical area with a unique culture. In other words, the church is part human social institution.

    If we choose to ignore intelligent thought behind human social institutional relational interaction, we do not avoid making church into a human institution – it already is one.
    If we choose to dismiss these thoughts and focus on “divine” considerations alone, we will simply be implementing our particular brand of preferred social interaction and implementation on our people in willful ignorance.

    It is akin to saying, “leave philosophers for the philosophers, I’ll stick with exegesis,” without realizing the philosophy you – already – believe is undergirding your own theology (which in turn is impacting your exegesis).

    Yes, we are called to be wise in all aspects of life and church practice. It is okay to talk about networks, size, social venues for relationship, social justice interaction, denominational trends, etc. We don’t have to say “Jesus” in every conversation to sanctify wisdom.

    • True, but don’t you still find it troubling if the key “trends” for the church moving forward look almost exactly the same as the key trends for secular organizations as well? You’re definitely right that the church is a (partly) human institution and will, therefore, have many of the same organizational dynamics as any other human institution. But, the church is also more than that. If there are no trends that point toward the theological reality of the church, isn’t that a problem? Or, if there are, why don’t they ever show up on these kinds of lists?

    • Stephen, you miss my point. It’s not saying the name “Jesus” as if it were some sort of incantation that sanctifies a conversation about church. Rather, the church exists ostensibly to serve Him. However, that a list of 11 “church trends” can completely exclude any meaningful reference to Him demonstrates that the church is entirely focused on itself as a human institution. Any devotion to Jesus is merely lip service.

      I do not say that the church should change. I say that its people should wake up and abandon it so that they might seek the kingdom of God. In other words, we should repent and live for God. Churchgoing is not living for God. Church is, as you say, a human social structure no matter which way you cut it.

      It’s time to abandon social Christianity and get back to spiritual Christianity (http://bit.ly/fM2vl8).

  6. Mike, after reading your reply and the link you provided, I believe I understand your point the first time and the second. We are definately in fundamental disagreement, since I think the human institutional part of the church – is okay.

    Marc – When I’ve attended church planting seminars and pastoral conferences in the past I hear things like the 11 trends and I know it is subject matter the attendees want to hear. If I were to attend ETS (I long for the day) I would expect to hear about theological trends in the church.

    Sure, it would be okay if the two mixed in the same format, but I don’t think they have to – if – the same pastor attends both. We need pastors who are theologically and institutionally minded. I want to attend both, and I’m not even a pastor.

    • Well said, Stephen. I think too often we draw false dichotomies – dichotomies based on real people we have seen and know who are in fact living falsely – that when broadly applied rule out many forms of wisdom that those in the church are attempting to foster. Simply because many hypocrites attend church doesn’t mean the faithful few don’t or shouldn’t. (I don’t believe this is what Mike is attempting to say… even if that is in fact what he has written.) Christians should worship (focus on God) and love one another as he loves us (focus on one another) and church is a great place where both of these things can happen.
      As far as I can tell the earliest forms of Christian gatherings were based on worship in the synagogue, something that was not prescribed in biblical worship. (Am I implying that our earliest forms of worship were based, consequently, on a human institution? Yes… at least partly.) In principle I do not see a problem using true wisdom, whether it is gleaned from the world’s practices or from the church, in order to do what we are already doing the best we can.

  7. Adam B, I wasn’t saying church should be abandoned because there are hypocritical people in it. If that was all that was wrong, it would only be an argument for reforming the church. Rather, I am saying that if you read the New Testament you see that the apostles were preparing for the soon coming kingdom of God. That kingdom would replace the church in the same way that the church had replaced Jerusalem’s temple. Just as Jews clung to the temple when something greater came, so Christians have clung to the church when something greater has come. Therefore, both Jews and Christians have anachronistic centers of worship.

    Today it is the kingdom of God that should command our attention. It has come and Jesus is its head. The choice is clear: serve Christ or serve church, but no man can serve both.

    • Mike, forgive me if I am slow of hearing.
      You seem to be using church in a pejorative way, as if it is somehow implicitly opposed to the kingdom of God simply by being what it is. The New Testament did not seem to use the term this way. “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” “Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church.” “I am the least of the apostles… because I persecuted the church of God.” “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…” “Christ is the head of church, his body…” etc.
      Are you suggesting that we have moved beyond church, as it is used in these texts above, into kingdom? That it is in fact anti-kingdom to continue to participate in the same church that once made know the manifold wisdom of God?

  8. Yes. Just as the church was something greater than the temple, so the kingdom is something greater than the church.

    Therefore, we should be seeking the kingdom of God instead of church (http://bit.ly/fyu1H7).

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