I came across an interesting blog (a) by Carey Nieuwhof the other day.  I have since learned that Carey Nieuwhof is the founding pastor of Connexus Church in Barne, Ontario, Canada.  His church is one of the most influential churches in North America.

   The blog page that caught my attention was titled, ’10 Predictions About the Future Church and Shifting Attendance Patterns’.  In his blog, Pastor Nieuwhof reminds us that every generation experiences change.  He cites statistical information (gathered by the Barna Group) that says that North Americans over the age of 30 were born into a Christian culture but very soon those who have no church affiliation will outnumber those who have church affiliation.  He further states that “… 48% of Millennials (born between 1984-2002) can be called post-Christian in their beliefs, thinking and worldview”.  This means that the church, to be effective in its mission to create disciples, must change because the people the church is attempting to reach think differently that most who attend church.

   Predictions are just that, predictions or guesses about what the future will bring.  But I am hopeful that Pastor Nieuwhof is right.

   Below will be a synopsis of Pastor Nieuwhof’s predictions.  If you want further details please visit the link provided at the bottom.

   1. ‘The potential to gain is greater than the potential to lose.’

   The author reminds the reader that ‘the church’ was Jesus’ idea, not mankind’s.  The church has the ability to survive mankind’s and cultural missteps.  The church has a history of pulling itself back from extinction.

   2. ‘Churches that love their model more than the mission will die.’

   This is basically what the book ‘Simple Church’, that Pastor Dick has recommended MABC to read, is saying.  You can read more about this in either the blog or the book ‘Simple Church’.

  3. ‘The gathered church is here to stay.’

   There are those today who suggest that people gathering to worship is an archaic concept and should be abandoned.  Pastor Nieuwhof says such a notion is naïve.  Christians have always gathered and will continue to do so.

   4. ‘Consumer Christianity will die and a more selfless discipleship will emerge.’

   Consumer Christianity means, what can I get from God  or what’s in it for me?  A selfless discipleship is one of service to our fellow   Servanthood always trumps selfish motivations in God’s kingdom.

   5. ‘Sundays wil become more about what we give than what we get.’

   With the death of consumer Christianity, corporate worship will become less about us and more about Jesus. 

   Currently, many churches in North America are focused on those who gather every Sunday, that is, those who have already accepted Christ into their hearts.  Nieuwhof predicts that, in the future, church gatherings will become focused outward, reaching for those who are not yet Christians.

   6. ‘Attendance will no longer drive engagement; engagement will drive attendance.’

   Most churches today strive to get those who are attending to engage in the church activities.  A more powerful church would be one where those who attend are doing so because they are already engaged.

   7. ‘Simplified ministries will complement people’s lives, not compete with people’s lives.’

   This is what Pastor Dick and ‘Simple Church’ are saying.  As a church grows it isn’t necessary to add more ministries.  Instead, simplify the method to be a more effective ministry. 

   A quote from the blog reads, “some churches offer so many programs for families that families don’t have a chance to be families”.  Look around and you will see that statement is true for many large churches.

   8. ‘Online church will supplement the journey but not become the journey.”

   There is a place for streaming a church service online.  But to be a church people need to gather, to join into the warmth of fellowship.

  9. ‘Online church will become more of a front door than a back door.”

   Far too many people today have left the church are substituting a streaming worship service rather than attend a live church service.  Streaming church services are an amazing benefit for those who cannot physically attend but it was never meant to be an ‘off ramp’ from corporate worship. 

   Nieuwhof hopes that streaming services will, in the future, be a place for the curious to sample a church before showing up in person.

   10. ‘Gatherings will be smaller and larger at the same time.”

   Mega churches will continue to exist but church size will become irrelevant in a church’s effectiveness.

   Nieuwhof believes that churches, large and small, will do their most effective ministry in small group gatherings.  Small groups allow for a more intimate gathering and offer a wide venue of choices to meet.  A small group can comfortable gather in home, coffee shop and even in a room within the church.

   Utilizing small group ministry, a church body can grow while individual members of a group meet as smaller churches within it.

Link to blog – https://careynieuwhof.com/10-predictions-about-the-future-church-and-shifting-attendance-patterns/

(a) blog – a regularly updated website or web page that is written in an informal or conversational style.