4. CONSUMER-CENTERED APPROACHES TO CHURCH WILL CONTINUE TO LOSE MOMENTUM
A lot of church growth from the ’80s to a few years ago was fueled by churches who embraced the fact that we live in a consumer culture.
While that approach has always had its critics, it actually did result in a great number of people who authentically followed Jesus and churches that experienced explosive growth.
But things have changed and that era is coming to an end.
Ultimately, consumer Christianity isn’t about what you bring to the mission, it’s about what you can squeeze out of it.
The digital explosion of the last decade has meant people feel more marketed to than ever before. Which also people are seeking an alternative (see trend #1 above).
Churches who use the approach of “come to us…we’re the best/coolest/hippest/most orthodox/most whatever” won’t have enough of a basis to hold people together in an era where content can be consumed anywhere/anyhow/anywhere.
It’s far easier to consume content on a treadmill or on your commute than it is to drive to a place at a set time and sit in a back row and consume.
As a result, many consumer-oriented Christians won’t commit to anything, and the remaining few will leave. It’s just more convenient to do whatever you feel like from wherever you are than it is to gather or commit to a cause that’s bigger than you.
Not much is lost in seeing consumers leave. It’s hard to build the future of the church on people who won’t engage. So let them go.
5. YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO GET AWAY WITH A BAD WORKPLACE CULTURE
In many ways, 2017 and 2018 raised both the awareness of abusive workplaces and leaders and (helpfully) increased our unwillingness to work in toxic environments or for toxic people.
This is good…and needed.
While sexual safety, dignity and integrity at work are a given, the bad culture problem runs deeper than just sex.
Too many church leaders who lead people in the name of God create a team culture that feels nothing like the Kingdom of God—arrogant leadership, selfish manipulation, office politics, gossip and deceptive maneuvering have killed far more cultures and harmed more people than you can count. All of this has left a body count of people who say they’re not done with God, but they’re done with church (I wrote a response to that here.)
Don’t believe the cynics. This is not every Christian workplace. But it is some. And some is too many.
And, again, for the cynically minded, this is not just a church problem. It’s a human problem.
Step out of the church world for 10 minutes and jump into any corporate (or not-for-profit) culture and it won’t take you too long to find similar problems replicated there. We human beings are desperately in need of redemption, and we all lead from a place of sin and wounding. There are really no exceptions to that.
But that doesn’t mean our culture has to stink. Our God is a God of redemption, and ultimately our churches and organizations should reflect our collective strengths more than they reflect our weaknesses.
The necessity for healthier workplaces was voiced over a decade ago as Millennials left college and stepped into the workplace. They let us know quickly and loudly that they weren’t going to put up with the misery that previous generations put up with.
Whether they’re on your payroll, volunteering or working as independent contractors, Millennials have made it known that ultimately they work for themselves, not you. And—heads up bosses—they want to work for a cause that’s bigger than you or the bottom line.
Finally, the way you treat them may be more important than what you pay them. These days, no salary is big enough to compensate for making you feel miserable. (Here are 7 keys to leading and working with Millennials.)
None of this is bad at all. Actually, it’s refreshing.
It’s a whole new day out there when it comes to workplace and team culture, and that’s a good thing.
Cultural values will become more important than ever in 2019. And living by the values you espouse will become even more important than having values. What’s on the wall has to live down the hall.
Integrity and authenticity are two of the most important characteristics any leader can possess, especially in the current culture. These are two things Christians should have been modeling all along.
Your culture is quickly becoming the main way you attract and keep the best people—staff or volunteers.
Great cultures will keep great people. Toxic cultures will expel them.