If you’re breathing, you know our culture is changing and that the church is undergoing a massive transition.
The question is, what do you do about that?
How do you lead in the midst of it?
And if you’re leading a church, how do you respond?
Questions like that have a lot of church leaders soul searching these days, including me. That can only be good for the mission of the church and for the future.
I frequently write about the subject of the current and future church on this blog because I care about the church deeply. Several months ago I wrote a five-part series on why people attend church less often and how the church can respond. You can access that series here.
This is a follow up to that series.
While the way forward is not clear and will change, I offer these five guidelines on how our weekend church services will change in addition to the 10 predictions I made about future church attendance patterns here.
Naturally, not all might be accurate. But I hope they help further the dialogue in your mind and in your church.
1. Preaching and Teaching Will Go Hand in Hand.
Most pastors lean toward preaching or teaching. Few do both regularly or well.
What’s the difference between preaching and teaching?
Without going all seminary for a moment, a broad distinction would be that preaching is announcing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, and teaching is the instruction and building up of people who have become Christians.
For sure, it’s more nuanced than that. But the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.
Sometimes even in the early church the terms were used interchangeably, but the main distinction is between proclaiming the Gospel and instructing Christians.
There’s no doubt there’s a resurgence in teaching ministry. Many of the churches that are reaching people under 30 are doing it with strong teaching ministries. John Piper has a lot of Millennials listening. So do Louis Giglio and Jon Tyson.
This shouldn’t be surprising.
Churches that are reaching people with no church background have a developing issue. At Connexus Church, where I serve, over 50 percent of our growth is directly from people with no church background or attendance.
That’s amazing, but the question is how do you give people background to the faith they’re adopting while continuing to communicate in a way that expands the mission?
For sure, you can move off Sunday with teaching into small groups and other venues (and the Internet gives us options for content creation that didn’t exist 15 years ago). But the fact remains that the Sunday morning message is when you simply have most people’s attention.
The challenge, of course, with having a predominantly teaching ministry is that the church becomes about insiders and you miss reaching outsiders.
The challenge with having a predominantly preaching ministry is that the church can become all about outsiders and you miss teaching insiders.
The future church will have to have a both/and approach.