|Trends in Churches in 2016…
Thom Rainer has been watching trends in churches in the past two decades. He certainly isn’t a prophet but has had a pretty good record of observing emerging issues in churches to project an accurate picture of the future. Rainer has seen the following issues grow steadily during 2015, so he says he doesn’t need to be the brightest person in the world to project the following major trends for 2016.
“1. Church security as the fastest growing ministry. Shootings in churches and the sexual abuse of children mandate this unfortunate trend. No church can afford to be without serious security measures, policies, and equipment.
2. Decrease in worship center size and capacity. The large worship gathering is not as popular as it once was. Through multiple services and multiple sites, churches will follow this preference with smaller capacity worship centers.
3. Increase in successfully revitalized churches. More church leaders sense a call to lead revitalized churches. Because of this desire and intentionality, we will see more success stories about such congregations.
4. Rapid growth of coaching ministries. The current trend is anecdotal, but it will become obvious. Pastors and staff who have the humility to be led, and the willingness to invest resources in coaching, are becoming the most effective church leaders.
5. Increase in churches in gentrified communities. Thousands of older urban communities are becoming revitalized. Churches are following the increased numbers of residents to these communities.
6. Increased emphasis on practical ministry training. Church leaders in America have seen a much needed (and two-decade-long) renewal of training in classical disciplines and doctrine. That need remains, but more leaders are crying for training in leadership, relational skills, and other practical ministries.
7. Increasing emphasis on groups. Church leaders are getting it. When church members are a part of some type of group, such as a small group or Sunday school class, they attend more faithfully, evangelize more frequently, and give more abundantly.
8. Fewer segregated churches. For most of American history, 11:00 a.m. on Sunday was the most segregated hour of the week. That is changing. A church that is not racially and ethnically diverse will soon become the exception instead of the norm.
9. The rise of the mini-denomination church. This trend is accelerating because of the increased number of multi-site churches. As churches with four or more sites grow, they will take on some of the characteristics of a denomination.
10. Increased pastoral tenure. For a number of reasons, the tenure of a pastor at a given church will increase. More pastors will make it to the five-year mark, where the most fruitful years of ministry typically begin.
11. Rise of alternative ministry placement organizations. Old and existing systems of how churches find prospective pastors and staff are falling apart. They are being replaced with effective and independent ministry search organizations.
12. Increase in the number of Millennials who are Christians. I am projecting the number to increase from 15 percent of this generation to 18 percent, meaning 2.3 million Millennials will become believers in 2016.
13. Accelerated decline of 100,000 American congregations. Historically, American congregations have been tenacious and survived beyond most expectations. That reality is no longer true. Ineffective churches will decline rapidly as churchgoers are unwilling to be a part of congregations that are not making a difference.
14. Churches no longer viewed favorably by many governmental units. As a consequence, it will become increasingly difficult for churches to expand their physical facilities or to be able to hold functions in the community.
15. More bi-vocational pastors and staff. This trend is increasingly becoming the result of choices by pastors and staff, rather than financial limitations.
16. Dramatic changes in senior adult ministries. Baby boomers will not participate in the way most churches have done senior adult ministry. They will force change, particularly from the entertainment model to an activist model.”
All of these projections will involve change for congregations which will create anxiety that will need to be managed by skilled pastors and leaders. But these projections also open doors of opportunities for new ministry and mission in congregations and communities. With God’s power and strength the culture is ripe for transformation. What trends are you seeing in your congregation and community for 2016?
– Wayne Van Regenmorter
Wayne’s contact information:
10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281