The Future Church – Relational

Looking into the Future: The Top 10 Changes for the American Church 3. Relational For many years the trend has been that larger churches are continuing to grow larger while smaller churches continue to decline in membership.  In some megachurch settings it is very easy for someone to attend worship and remain anonymous and have little or no interaction with other people. Another trend that has now spanned a few decades is that of emphasizing programs.  Many congregations place an emphasis Read More …

Online Churches Draw Believers, Critics

Earlier this week, Anne Hammock wrote an article for CNN about online churches. Online Churches Draw Believers, Critics explores a topic that is drawing increased attention from both sacred and secular media as more and more people participate in online worship and discipleship experiences.  She writes, "Internet pastors and parishioners cite their 24-hour access to interactive tools and social-networking platforms to show their online experiences are as meaningful as those that take place Read More …

The Future Church – Congregational/Local is Primary

Looking into the Future: The Top 10 Changes for the American Church 4.    Congregational/Local is Primary Gone are the days when loyalty to denomination is common. The mentality of yesteryear was that a loyal parishioner of First United Methodist in one town would join another United Methodist congregation when that person relocated for a new job or retirement.  Today when a faithful participant of one local body of believers moves to a new town, that individual is likely to visit Read More …

Review of Boundless Faith

Wuthnow, Robert.  Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches.  University of California Press, 2009.  ISBN: 978-0-520-25915-7. Meet the Author Robert Wuthnow is the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor of Social Sciences and Director of the Center for the Study of American Religion at Princeton University.  Wuthnow is widely published in the areas of sociology of religion, culture and civil society.  His recent books include Boundless Faith: The Global Influence of American Read More …

The Future Church – Greater Variety of Worship Experiences

Looking into the Future: The Top 10 Changes for the American Church 5.    Greater Variety of Worship Experiences Gone are the days when church growth simply meant adding more worship services.  For years, the model was simple.  Churches held a single Sunday morning worship service.  If attendance grew beyond the comfort level of the leaders, then a second service was added.  The second service was a copy of the first.  The same was true for a move from two services to three or three to Read More …

The Future Church – Inclusive

Looking into the Future: The Top 10 Changes for the American Church 6.    Inclusive Church is often viewed by outsiders as exclusive.  The idea that 11:00 a.m. on Sunday is the most segregated hour of the week has been commonplace for decades.  Bouncer (commercial shown above, permission granted to repost) is one of many effective television commercials created by the United Church of Christ that seek to counter the cultural expectation that few are truly welcome at church with an Read More …

The Future Church – More Functional

Looking into the Future: The Top 10 Changes for the American Church 7.    More Functional (Ministry Teams and Task Forces) Any discussion of this change must begin with the recognition of the three primary forms of polity found in Protestant churches: congregational, presbyterian, and episcopal.  In some ways those congregations with a congregational polity will find the changes simpler to make than those with the other forms.  However, it is both necessary and appropriate for all churches Read More …

American Religious Practice and Belief- Test Your Knowledge

How Accurate Are Your Impressions? Many Christians assume they have a basic understanding of American religious practice and belief.  The following 10 statements, answers, and explanations are based on research by Rodney Stark, which is published in What Americans Really Believe.  For a more comprehensive review of that book and an introduction to Stark, click here. Test your own knowledge by indicating whether you believe each statement to be true or false. The percentage of Americans Read More …

The Future Church – More Relevant and Leading Edge

Looking into the Future: The Top 10 Changes for the American Church 8.    More Relevant and Leading Edge For many years, the American church assumed that it was relevant because it existed in a Christian nation.  A generation or two ago, the church was the center of community life.   During this era, church planting often took the "if we build it, parishioners will come" mentality.  Questions about relevance were rarely raised in any formal setting and even less frequently factors Read More …

The Future Church – Less Formal

Looking into the Future: The Top 10 Changes for the American Church 9.    Less Formal Formal Informal Dress up in Sunday best to attend Come as you are (wear what you normally do) Formal titles used when known, especially for clergy and church leaders (i.e. The Rev. Dr.) Names not titles are normative Extensive worship guides/bulletins Limited or no print materials used in worship Positional leadership Functional leadership Join the club Participate in Read More …