The Future Church (v.2020) – 10 Shifts

Over the last two weeks I have shared the top ten ways I hope the American church of 2020 will differ from the church of 2012.  The list

  • builds on trends in church and the larger culture;
  • is realistic rather than idealistic; and
  • is guided by hope in rather than fear about the future.

The list seeks to consider broad shifts within American Christianity rather than specific changes or changes more likely in some traditions and less likely in others.  Additionally, it intentionally favors Protestantism because of my own limitations in study and life experience.

My writing is designed to start conversation and contribute to ongoing dialogue rather than to provide “the answer.”  I invite your feedback on any or all of the items I propose.  To read and respond simply click on any of the items on the list below to view the associated post.


10.  More Collaboration – Less Competition

9.  More Scalable – Less Fixed Costs

8.  More About Following – Less About Membership

7.  More About Questions – Less About Answers

6.  More Jesus-Centered – Less Focused on Tradition

5.  More Begin by Belonging – Less Begin by Believing

4.  More Connected – Less Geographically Dependent

3.  More Innovative – Less Predictable

2.  More Egalitarian – Less Hierarchical

1.  More About Deeds – Less About Creeds



  1. […] he imagines is very different than the one I believe likely (for more on my vision, read “The Future of the Church: 10 Shifts“).  While his conclusion cannot be dismissed by his tradition, understanding his own […]

  2. […] my own “Future Church – More Collaboration” from my series on The Future Church (v.2020) […]

  3. […] educational roles with congregations affiliated with the remaining trio.  Recently I wrote about the ten biggest changes I anticipate in the American church by 2020.  Those shifts are informed by my understanding of the […]

  4. […] to the development of sacred spaces (for more on what I understand to be happening read about the future church or, more specifically, how it is likely to be more […]

  5. […] As you look ahead 10 to 20 years, what changes do you see needed in the mainline? How likely do you feel each is? (for my take on this read “The Future Church v.2020 – 10 Shifts.”) […]

  6. […] Since completing my doctoral degree, I have served three unusual congregations with significant similarities: (1) more than 1,100 members with average worship attendance exceeding 600 per week, (2) a strong sense of denominational identity with uncommon commitment to welcome those from all traditions, and (3) an intentional balance between being Spirit-guided and having strong accountability to congregational mission and strategic planning.  These opportunities alongside dialogue with colleagues in smaller congregations and in declining congregations of all sizes led me to begin asking questions about the future of the American church in general, and the future of mainline/progressive Protestantism more specifically.  While it is impossible to know exactly what the future holds, certain changes are likely over the next several years including becoming more about deeds and less about creeds, more egalitarian and less hierarchical, more innovative and less predictable, more connected and less geographically dependent, and having more newcomers begin by belonging rather than believing (learn more about my views of the future of the church at […]

  7. […] Monk site, shared his summary of my thoughts on the future of the church as expressed in a series of blog posts written last year.  In addition to framing my series as a “perspective on the future of the […]

  8. […] am intrigued at the significant overlap between his list and my list of the ten changes most likely for the future church.  My list is in rank order whereas Nieuwhof does not make any such claim about his.  In an […]

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