Monday Morning Insights

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    This was 1981.  But what will the Church look like in 2040?

    This was 1981.  But what will the Church look like in 2040?

    "Imagine sitting down to drink your morning cup of coffee, turning on your computer, and using it to read your daily newspaper... It's not as farfetched as it may seem".  It was almost 30 years ago.  1981.  The year before I graduated high school.  Take a look at this short news report about the internet, then I'm going to ask you to put on your thinking cap...

    That was almost 30 years ago, yet I remember it like yesterday.  How things have changed in 30 years.

    The church has gone through massive changes over the past 30 years as well.  I've been involved in ministry for almost 25 years, most of that time serving on a church staff.  Things are definitely different now than when I started.  Some of the changes have been great.  Some not so much.

    But what about the next 30 years?

    In 30 years, my kids will be 48, 46, 44, and 42. I'm guessing my grandkids will likely be teenagers.  I will be 75.  What will the church look like then?

    In 1981, turning on a computer to read your newspaper seemed 'farfetched'.  This morning, I can flip on my iPad and read USA TODAY or any other newspaper in seconds.  (The first newspaper took over 2 hours to download just the text.  And you had to pay for all of your 'on-line minutes'!)

    I'm wondering today?  What seems farfetched in our minds about the church, that my grandchildren will think is normal?  What will the church look like in 2040?  Will we even recognize it?

    What do you think I'll be wearing to worship when I'm 75?  What will I be singing?  Will I even go to worship in a building?

    Will sermons still be boring?  Will there still be sermons?

    Will John Piper and Rick Warren still be friends?

    What version of the Bible will we use in 2040?

    What will technology look like?

    How many campuses will Mars Hill and have?

    I have many questions.  Please give me some answers.

    And add your questions and thoughts to the comments section below as well.  What will the church look like in 2040?



    PS-- even more specifically than "THE CHURCH", what will YOUR CHURCH look like in 2040?  What are you doing now that will impact the next 30 years of your church and community?


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    1. David Buckham on Mon, April 12, 2010

      I know the question is what will “your” church (maybe a semantical pet peeve of mine, but it’s not “my” or “your” church, we didn’t die for it, but alas, I know what you are getting at) look like 30 years from now, but here is a sad observation. I live and serve in a small town in a rural area. There are 180 churches in this county (county of 25,000). I would venture to say half of them look/feel the exact same they did 30 years ago. Of those that look/feel the same, probably have of them haven’t changed in over 50 years.

      all about Christ,

    2. Mark L. Hostetler on Mon, April 12, 2010

      What are you whining about?  I’ll be 90!  Just kidding; I thought the YouTube clip was great.  Thanks for the MondayMorningInsights.

    3. Fred on Mon, April 12, 2010

      My personal opinion is that I hope my church looks the same. What I mean is that we would still honor God and focus on God far more than we focus on externals. In doing this I believe the only externals that would be incorporated are those that would permit this goal of centering on the cross. This would make externals basically immaterial, so I would not see any major changes. Would we lose some people? Yes, those that are focused on externals and the new byword today “change” , would seek the churches that are into the externals or make them so important. But those that are truly centered on the Word, the Gospel, on Christ alone will be faithful and keep in with reverential standard—one that seems to stand the ravages of time—-and yes, there are many churches that though all have exerienced some external changes, those changes are natural and never focused on. I would say that these are still the majority of churches—minus the mega-churches. So is this a concern to me—no—-not at all. My concern is that the truth of the Gospel—the old , old story is still proclaimed and concentrated on.

    4. Todd Rhoades on Mon, April 12, 2010


      Yeah… all I meant was ‘the church you are currently leading’.  If the church is ‘ours’, we’re all screwed.


    5. Dave on Mon, April 12, 2010

      What is similar? What is different? The core business of a Newspaper is INFORMATION TRANSFERRAL. That information has become more dynamic (every story has a comment section that is often longer than the original story) and transferred electronically.

      What is the non-negotiable core business of a local church? I would suggest it is RELATIONAL CONNECTION (a.k.a. the great commandment). This used to happen in homes, then centralized meeting places, then multiple venues, now individualized social-networking is booming, in 30 years….?

      I think the pendulum has swung and many are primarily focused on the 2nd commandment becasue they assume the first. I think there will be a resurgence of the first commandment, but don’t know what that will look like.

    6. Phil Brooks on Mon, April 12, 2010

      It scares me to look 30-40 years down the road because I think the church is growing spiritually weaker. I too have been involved in pastoring for the past 30 years and I’ve watched the new trends in worship and church growth. New sounds, new technology and more knowledge are much more abundant, but with all these, I’ve seen a trend of spiritual weakness in the church today.
      According to Revelation, the end time church will show signs of little strength and I’m seeing this prophecy unfold over the years. I hope my church will be aligned with others that prove this trend wrong and we will be a pocket of spirituall strength in these last days!

    7. Helen on Mon, April 12, 2010

      In my book, the Bible, it says Jesus is coming soon.  I don’t plan on being here in 2040.  Should Jesus not return by then, frankly, I don’t believe there will be any more church buildings.  There will be all huge theatres, arenas, stadiums etc etc. where “church” will be entertainment and all feel good stuff. By then, socialism will have taken charge and everyone will be forced to worship an appointed dictator. In 2040, “church” will be unrecognizable by today’s model.  I find it scary, however, Jesus will prevail, in the END!

    8. David on Mon, April 12, 2010

      Couple of things.

      1)  Social networking will drive how church members relate and dominate how people invite the unchurched to attend.  However sometime in the next 30 years there will be a mass exodus of the church from facebook and twitter towards “Christian” social networking services leaving a void in the mainstream social networking arena to which the Emergent Church 2.0 will declare the new mission field.

      2.  A reversal of the church growth model will take place and “house” churches will become the dominate model for church.  Each “house” church will be networked together utilizing skype to receive the latest teaching series from Rick Warren called purpose driven retirement.

    9. CS on Mon, April 12, 2010

      The good news is that Christ’s church will still be preaching the Gospel, reading the Bible, and doing the same things that have gone on for the past 2000 years.  But my wager is that in 30 years, particularly in America, persecution for being a Christian will rise, churches will have to be licensed in some way or go underground, but at least most of the circus church mentality will be gone.


    10. Alan E. Nelson on Mon, April 12, 2010

      Here’s what I did to change the church in 30 years…. I left the pastorate and left serving pastors (for the most part) in order to focus my 2nd half efforts on a system that would identify and develop leaders while they’re moldable, such as between the ages of 10-13.  Seems to me that the way to change history is to focus on leaders, but the way to change leaders is to focus on them when they’re young.  While it seems I’ve abandoned the church to do something else, it’s exactly what you write about, the future of the church, that I’m so passionate about this young leader mission.  There’s so much we don’t understand about who these individuals are whom God has wired to lead, that we’ll forever be playing catch up if we don’t get ahead of the influencer curve.  Nuff said… go to for more.

    11. CS on Mon, April 12, 2010

      Alan E. Nelson:

      “Seems to me that the way to change history is to focus on leaders, but the way to change leaders is to focus on them when they�re young.  While it seems I�ve abandoned the church to do something else, it�s exactly what you write about, the future of the church, that I�m so passionate about this young leader mission.”

      Sorry, getting tangential here, but what’s the biblical precedence for developing leaders in this way? 


    12. David Buckham on Mon, April 12, 2010

      About developing leaders. Do you think we focus too much on this? Don’t flame me yet…There are books, conferences, college, graduate and post graduate degrees, websites, blogs and even a Leadership Bible.

      It seems “we” all want to lead and develop leaders, but what about followers? Does anyone want to follow Christ or just focus on how we need to lead? There is a subtle difference in the focus of the two and leadership is important but since when did it become more important than following Christ?

      Just some thoughts since the discussion went this way.

      all about Christ,

    13. keith on Mon, April 12, 2010

      I speak not as an expert but a hobbiest in church history and as a pastor/former missionary who’s lived 11 years in Islamic countries.

      The Church began in Israel. Due to persecution, the locus of Christianity moved north to what is now Turkey. From there missionaries went out to all parts of the known world; they penetrated as far east as China, but the Church in Central Asia died quickly (partly due to persecution, partly due to falling into heresy). They planted congregations in India, but those have struggled for centuries.

      Today Turkey’s population is less than a tenth of a per cent Christian. Due to Roman and then Islamic persecution, the locus of the Church relocated to Europe. From there missionaries, again, traveled to all parts of the globe, including ‘the New World,” a.k.a. the USA.

      Today Europe’s Christian population, once the largest on the planet, is small and weak (from a cultural influence perspective, at least). Missionaries from the USA have gone out to all parts of the globe (note repeating pattern).

      The seeds of the Gospel are reaping great harvest in previously unreceptive soil: Africa, South Asia, and South America. Meanwhile the Church in the USA - note the repeating pattern - is becoming weak and shrinking in size.

      In 1900 the “average” Christian was a white-skinned male of European ancestry. One thousand years later the “average” Christian is a brown-skinned female living in the southern planetary hemisphere.

      The Christian world has ALREADY changed.

      Well before 2040 the Church in America will be, at best, about the same as Christianity is now in Europe: a small (very small, as a percentage of the overall population) minority of orthodox (conservative, Bible-believing); a larger (but still small) percentage of liberal, anemic Christians, living among a huge mixed population of non-Christians and actively hostile anti-Christians. This is not only the overall pattern of history; the process has been moving in this direction in the USA for generations.

      It is irreversible, barring another great awakening.

      Even with another great awakening, I believe the process would only be delayed, not prevented.

      Don’t fall for the lulling idea that increasing persecution against the Church and decreasing influence by the Church in America is proof that Christ will return soon. There has been violence against and marginalization of the Church over most of the world for most of the last 2,000 years. America has been a haven and an exception that we’ve been blessed with.

      It will not last.

      Prepare yourselves & your physical and spiritual children to be ready for hard times. God is still good; the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. It will thrive - but not here for much longer.


    14. Leonard on Mon, April 12, 2010

      getting back on topic…  The news print industry ushered in this type of change and now the change is putting the news print out of business.  The statement was that few people would make this their way of receiving news. 

      The coloration in my mind is that there are things we bring into the church today that will bring sweeping change later. 

      This seems to be consistent with church history as well.  When the council in Jerusalem opened the door for Gentiles to become a part of the church it changed forever Jewish Christianity.  But that change was for the good.

      Change is not our enemy and it is not the equivalent to compromise.

    15. lynne marian on Mon, April 12, 2010

      In 30 years many churches will be bigger and smaller.

      Globalization will be fully achieved through nteractive, international communities. International ministries will less like “missions” and more like normal extensions of the churches own local ministry. Connected seemlessly via satellite and digital technology; worship services, interactive teaching, and meetings will be held in homes, public venues, etc. with participants across the country and around the world.  International Sister “churches,” sites and global community partnerships will participate as equals. Your staff devotions might be led by a pastor in Zimbabwe, ministry field reports will be given live via satellite during the Sunday morning service. Team retreats will include staff from around the world, each sharing and learning from each other.

      The church will be smaller as affinity, ministry and relational micro-communities, continue to emerge - but remain connected to their mother churches through teaching, training and mission support.

      At World Vision we are helping some churches embody this kind of global vision already. Much, much more to come.

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