What is the Future of Your Church?
Over the last week I’ve written about lies, truths, and threats that the church faces today. If we do not accept the lies, face the truths, and address the threats, the church will stumble into an uncertain future. The future of the church rests in our hands.
What is the future of your church? How will you engage the lies, truths, and threats you see in your congregation? Will you be a part of helping your church imagine an exciting and dynamic future?
The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons and Emergence Christianity by Phyllis Tickle are two recent books that provide good resources for thinking about how to lead the church into the future. It is impossible to overemphasize the need for the church to claim its future with imagination and purpose.
Here are some possible futures for every church. Perhaps you see your church in one of these futures.
1. Your church can be reinvented to meet undiscovered needs. it is not necessary to change the name, although some churches do. It is not necessary to relocate, but some churches do. It is necessary to be willing to change anything and everything in the effort to meet the changing needs of people in the church.
It is also necessary to change what makes us comfortable if it makes others uncomfortable and keeps them away. What is the one thing you would not consider changing in your church? That just may be the thing that needs changing to reach new people and to have future. Is it music? An event? A dress code? A program? What stands in the way?
2. Your church can hang onto to old memories and maintain traditions for smaller and smaller crowds. Churches choose their futures passively all the time. The keep doing the same thing over and over because they love the memory of having done it before. As the crowds shrink, you can keep explaining away why they are leaving, but they will leave all the same. Tradition for the sake of tradition almost always steals a church’s future.
3. Your church can sell off its property piece by piece to meet expenses. This has been already happening all over the country. The future is here. Even the Wall Street Journal had an article about this last weekend. Soon, there will be nothing left to sell off and your church will face future #4.
4. Your church can close and sell off its assets to another party. It is realistic to accept that all churches have life spans and there comes a time when the body of believers that makes up a local congregation should disband. When that time comes for your church be confident you know you have done everything to make sure it is the right time for your church to close its doors.
I once read that the true test of parenthood is how one’s grandchildren turn out. It made me realize I needed to raise my children so they would be not only good children but great parents themselves. If my children become good parents, then the next generation of my family should be strong and it is my responsibility to help them learn how to be great parents. This truth applies to future generations of the church.
What are you doing to make sure that the next generation of people in your church can carry it into whatever future God has designed for it? What is the future of your church?