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A Picture of a Vibrant Church in the U.S. in 2030, Part 4 of 7: Leader Teams

A vibrant church has emerged in 2030 that’s lead by teams of disciple-making leaders. There are very few full-time salaried pastors now in 2030.

There are plenty of wonderful exceptions. Large churches. Other models. But the vast majority of what has emerged is being led and gathered by teams of leader-disciples…oftentimes collaborating alongside pastors. 

Teams—not a lone pastor—share the leadership load of the gathered. They keep the gathered engaged in the mission frontier.

They balance a focus on:

  • Pressing out into Mission.
  • Demonstrating hospitality/caring for each other.
  • Remaining faithful to the heart of God.
  • Inviting people. Sharing the Gospel.
  • Teaching the Word of God.

“The number one problem in the American church today is leaders that have not been discipled.”

Alan Hirsch

A vibrant church with leader teams emerged because a decade earlier churches and their leaders…

A decade ago most leaders dismissed the alarm bells going off. Most churches simply assumed that the future would be a diminished extension of the past. They all assumed that somewhere… elsewhere… anywhere… things were better in those churches. No sense of collective reality. Few fell to their knees and interceded to God for needed workers for the harvest field.

They simply didn’t see the variables coming together. 

  • Seminaries struggled with diminished enrollments years earlier. Recipients of mostly empty “under the age of 40” congregational pipelines.
  • Larger congregations failed to recognize that their financial viability—and ability to afford a salaried pastor—was attached to an aging (and mostly generous) membership. 
  • Seminary candidates questioned the value exchange of 8 years of higher education with a questionable promise of earning a livelihood.

SO… the sad reality? Most churches were crushed or crippled.

But, there were a few—leaders—a decade ago who had the courage to pioneer…to experiment…to learn from each other.

  • Pastors saw “the writing on the wall”. Boards blessed them to freelance…build a parallel career. Pastors (and leaders)…
    • Prioritized discipling people… Now with a sense of urgent necessity.
    • Discovered their marketplace gifts they feared they didn’t have.
    • Engaged the mission field, modeled the way, where they freelanced.
    • Further lightened the programmatic backpack.

“This has been our life for 5 years. We’ve found church systems and church attitudes to be more hostile toward us than the culture.”

Former Pastor, now Marketplace Entrepreneur/Missionary

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

It created all manner of new questions churches never asked before But church leaders had stopped wishing things were different years earlier and had hoisted their sails toward a vibrant 2030 confident that God could lead and God could provide. 

“I’d hire 100 pastors tomorrow.”

State Farm Insurance Executive

48% of 2136 survey respondents believe discipling others holds the key to their church’s future.

So, for the conversation around the leadership table at your church: 

  • There’s hope! 
  • Massive, almost overwhelming change is coming. 
  • You’re not helpless. 

Truthfully? It could bring out the best in you and your congregation! Like the early histories of most of our own denominations. Like Early Church histories that were vibrant and alive. 


  • Name the early warning signs in your congregation of what’s been noted so far in this series.
  • If you were to invest in only one change…to start somewhere…toward a vibrant congregational future, where would you start? Each person share one. 

PLI’s Discipleship to Missional Community helps you create a new culture in your big/ small/ tired/ rural/ urban/ enthusiastic/ discouraged/ suburban/ frightened/ courageous congregation! We believe that investing in this culture is the hinge point toward a vibrant 2030. No one gets there without leaders leading the way. 

  • A new group will start in Nashville January 9-11, 2020. You would then join existing groups in St. Louis and Washington DC in Winter/Spring 2020. Raechel can explain more. Tell her you’d like more information.
  • 1000 Young Leaders launches a new cohort April 2020 for young, godly millennials to boost your impact with the generation that’s gone from your church.

Thanks for sharing the journey. Thanks for having the conversation. Thanks for taking a step forward.

Gail and Jock Ficken

One Response

  1. May God continue to bless our team

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