Future Church – More Egalitarian

Church v.2020 – Ten Changes:
#2 More Egalitarian – Less Hierarchical

When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will be more egalitarian and less hierarchical.  This shift will be fueled by a greater emphasis on the

  • priesthood of all believers, including efforts to help all within the faith community identify and use their gifts in areas of personal interest and passion;
  • use of technology, especially to help those in the community be more connected (more on being connected was discussed in the #4 change for the future of the church); and
  • local congregation as primary (a shift that does not dismiss importance of other bodies, but ensures they are not primary).
Pragmatically this shift will result in
  • less of a divide between clergy and laity;
  • less of a divide between those in formal leadership positions and all others within the congregation;
  • less emphasis on positional leadership and more attention to functional leadership;
  • greater innovation (more on being connected was discussed in the #3 change for the future of the church);
  • reform in church governance/polity, especially at levels beyond the local church (e.g., denominations); and
  • the emergence of new networks and other forms of voluntary collaboration(more on being connected was discussed in the #10 change for the future of the church) and covenant between churches.
So What?
In America the modern era was a time when hierarchy within businesses and nonprofit organizations was the norm.  While there are many disagreements about the finer points of post-modernity (as is true of any new era of history when it is still in its infancy), most agree it is now and increasingly will be redefining cultural norms.  Many aspects of post-modernity, including its rejection of metanarrative and the objectivity so prized in modernity, favor a far flatter experience in all areas of life.
  • In what ways is your congregation currently more hierarchical than is ideal for the church of the future (v.2020)?  What types of practical changes are necessary to move toward a radically egalitarian community?  Which of these changes should be undertaken first (and why)?
  • Why do you believe the Protestant church has become so hierarchical?  If the many denominations (and non-denominational groups) moved toward flatter structures shaped by a more egalitarian mindset by 2020 how would this change impact the interaction between Christians (on the individual, church and denominational levels) and the appearance of the religion to those with no religious affiliation?


  1. […] More egalitarian and less hierarchical. An increasing role for technology, along with a greater role for the local congregation rather […]

  2. […] Corporate worship is the central focus of many Christian churches.  The worship service itself often looks and feels just like it did 30 or 50 or even more years ago.  While in some cases the adoption of technology (microphones, projectors, and the like) has changed the feel, in far fewer cases has it changed or contributed to a change in the liturgy.  In an age when everything is instantaneous, waiting 7 days to worship may seem outdated to some.  Piatt rightly notes that the type of connection that was often only experienced on Sunday mornings can now be experienced in other ways and at other times, and that most ideas regarding worship include far less formal events than happens in those services of worship.  Rather than presuming that the worship services most of my readers grew up with are no longer valid, I instead suggest that we must now be more intentional in understanding, communicating, and fulfilling the role they play in an early twenty-first century world.  Additionally, churches must be mindful of the general shift toward a more egalitarian and less hierarchical church. […]

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