|Training for 21st Century Pastors…
Last week I attended a training event with a number of RCA pastors and leaders in Phoenix, AZ where one of the many things that Dr Soong-Chan Rah talked about was the changing face of Christianity. One of the greatest shifts in Christianity is that it has moved to the global South. He shared that in 1950 the typical Christian was a 50 year old male, white, suburban, upper middle class person. In 2015 the typical Christian lives outside North America and is a younger person from Africa, Asia or Latin America. In 1900, 83% of Christians were white from European countries and North America. In 2005, 40% of Christians were white/Anglo. By 2050 it is estimated that only 29% of Christians will be white/Anglo. According to the United States immigration demographics the U.S. minority population was about 33% in 2008. By 2011, 50% of the children born (birth rate) in the U.S were of minority populations. By 2023, 50% of all the children in the U.S. will be from minority populations. By 2042, the U.S. minority population in America will be more than 50%. In a short period of time there has been a dramatic cultural and ethnic shift in the United States and that shift will continue to grow and have impact on churches. Are we as pastors and churches prepared for the cultural and ethnic diversity that is heading our way? Just a RCA missionaries have had to receive intensive cultural and language training before going overseas, today’s pastors need cultural and language training to effectively reach the new challenges of post-modern Christianity and to minister effectively in a vast population of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial people groups.
Thom Rainer talks about the 10 greatest needs where pastors need training in reaching our new and changing culture. They are listed below:
“1. A new language. If a pastor or church staff member does not “speak” social media, he or she is neglecting one of the fastest-growing trends in our nation. Indeed, in our world. It is no longer a fad; it is a primary means of communication.
2. A non-Christian culture. Our nation is fast becoming a non-Christian nation. While we may lament the relative decline in the numbers who follow Christ, we must also accept the reality that we cannot assume others in our community are like us, nor hold the same values.
3. The decline of cultural Christians in churches. The well-known Pew Research project has confirmed the dramatic increase in the numbers of people with no religious affiliation. This means that most people do not feel any cultural pressure to attend church. More and more, those who are there are convicted Christians and not Christians in name only (which ought to encourage pastors).
4. A new work/life balance. Pastors and church staff members have always been on call 24/7. But now through computers, smart phones, and other advances, they are connected 24/7 electronically. For better or worse, the world of work and personal life is becoming increasingly blurred.
5. Unregenerate church members. Cultural Christians are those who know they are not believers, but affiliate with churches because of family traditions or for cultural reasons. Another group includes those who may cognitively assert a belief in Christ, but have not had a conversion experience. For certain, this development is nothing new. But in today’s church, we are seeing the cumulative cost of weak discipleship and false conversions. How will we respond to the issue of members who are not truly believers?
6. The community as a mission field. Can we change our mindsets and be better prepared? Our communities are not just changing because there are fewer Christians. They are changing with an influx of new ethnic groups and people of other religious beliefs.
7. Less automatic cultural respect for church leaders. In past years, those who held the title of “pastor” or a similar nomenclature were revered in the community just by the position they held. Such is not the case today. Respect must be earned one day at a time.
8. A more critical world. Many pastors and church staff members do not deal well with the more transparent and critical world in which we live. Some retreat to a form of passivity, or take the path of least resistance. Some quit altogether.
9. A greater need for leadership skills. The world in which we live is complex. We may long for simpler times, but that won’t change our realities. Church leaders must be better leaders in more challenging times.
10. More churches in need of revitalization. This may be last on the list, but the need is huge. As many as nine in 10 churches need some level of major revitalization. There are tens of thousands of these churches, and the implications for equipping leaders for them are vast.”
How are we preparing ourselves and getting ready for this new mission field. The harvest is great and the changing reality will require a missional passion and mindset. It will require a total surrender of obedience to the One who sends us out into the mission field. And that’s exactly where God wants us to be at work. It will require that we be a “Transformed and Transforming” person, congregation, classis, region and denomination. It will require being trained as missionaries. What does that mission field look like in your community? Are you talking about these new realities with your church leaders?
–Wayne Van Regenmorter
26: Reformed Community Church Consistory Meeting, Venice, FL
27: Travel Day
29: Camp Manitoqua Board Meeting/Frankfort, IL
30: Coaching; Office
1: Sunday Worship
2: KEZ Meeting/Calvary Reformed Church/Orland Park, IL
3: Synod Task Force Meeting/Delevan, WI
4-5: Ridder Church Renewal Integrative Retreat/Green Lake, WI
8: Sunday Worship
Wayne’s contact information:
10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281