13 Issues for Churches in 2013

11. Cultural discomfort

Many of the issues noted thus far point to growing levels of discomfort for the congregations in the culture they seek to minister and serve.

For all of the 20th century and even the early years of the 21st century, it was culturally acceptable, even expected, to be a part of a local congregation. Those expectations are all but gone.

There is a growing and distinct divide between the values of the culture and the Christian values most churches hold.

12. Organizational distrust

There is a pervasive and growing distrust of institutions in general. Those institutions are found in both government and business, but religious institutions are not exempt from this lack of trust.

That diminishing confidence exudes from those both in churches and those who do not attend churches.

13. Reductions in church staff

I am watching this development carefully. Two different forces are at work.

First, in many congregations there is a greater emphasis on laypersons handling roles once led by paid staff.

Second, the tough economic climate and declining church attendance are naturally affecting church budgets. Congregations are hesitant to fire staff, but more and more are not filling vacant positions.

What is your reaction to these issues? What trends would you add to this list?  

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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.