Charting New Waters (Part 5)

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First Church,

Today we conclude with the final observations given in an article that I began sharing with you a number of weeks ago.  These observations relate to the changing world and church landscape that we are now in and come from church communicator and church strategist Carey Nieuwhof’s article “10 Predictions About the Future Church and Shifting Attendance Patterns” (Feb 23, 2015 blog article).  For the full article go to: http://careynieuwhof.com/10-predictions-about-the-future-church-and-shifting-attendance-patterns/

Especially as we continue in our sermon series, “The Rest of the Story” I would ask that you be thinking and praying about what such observations might mean for First Church as we increasingly seek to live lives of faithfulness in a rapidly changing world.  This week we look at points nine and ten from Nieuwhof’s article.

  1. Online Church Will Become More Of A Front Door Than A Back Door

There’s no question that today online church has become a back door for Christians who are done with attending church.

While online church is an amazing supplement for people who can’t get to a service, it’s still an off ramp for Christian whose commitment to faith is perhaps less than it might have been at an earlier point.

Within a few years, the dust will settle and a new role for online church and online ministry will emerge.  Online church has the potential to become a massive front door for the curious, the unconvinced and for those who want to know what Christianity is all about.

In the same way you purchase almost nothing without reading online reviews or rarely visit a restaurant without checking it out online first, a church’s online presence will be a first home for people which for many, will lead to a personal connection with Christ and ultimately the gathered church.

  1. Gatherings Will Be Smaller And Larger At The Same Time

While many might think the mega-church is dead, it’s not.  And while others think mega-churches are awful, there’s nothing inherently bad about them.  Size is somewhat irrelevant to a church’s effectiveness.

There are bad mega-churches and bad small churches.  And there are wonderfully effective mega-churches and wonderfully effective small churches.

We will likely see large churches get larger.  Multisite will continue to explode, as churches that are effective expand their mission.

At the same time, churches will also establish smaller, more intimate gatherings as millennials and others seek tighter connections and groups.  Paradoxically, future large churches will likely become large not because they necessarily gather thousands in one space, but because they gather thousands through dozens of smaller gatherings under some form of shared leadership.  Some of those gatherings might be as simple as coffee shop and even home venues under a simple structure.

We will see the emergence of bigger churches and smaller churches at the same time as the gathered church continues to change.

I hope you have found these observations to be helpful and faithfully challenging.  Even more so, I hope you have found these observations to provide hope for the future of God’s church.  The Lord has placed us in an extremely exciting time to be the church.  I personally have a tremendous amount of hope for God’s church in the days ahead.  I believe God will be doing wonderful things among us.

As always, let us seek to be rugged disciples who constantly Invite, Teach, and Send in Prayer and discernment so that ultimately we might see Transformation in Christ, where Christ is Changing Lives Inside and Out.

What a joy to be on this journey with you First Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Matt