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A Picture of a Vibrant Christian Church in the U.S. in 2030 Part 1 of 7

Two weeks ago we shared that the institutional church, possibly Christianity in general, will be a whisper, mostly a shadow, in the U.S. by 2030.

But, there’s good news in 2030 of a small, vibrant, emerging Christian church in the U.S. It’s certainly the work of the Spirit breathing breath into dry bones (Ezekiel 37). But it’s also because some leaders in some churches began to invest in a different future a decade ago.

The Church in 2030

In 2030, there are scattered exceptions of congregations that have defied the harsh winds of change in our culture.

They are “God’s chosen people who are living like foreigners” (1 Peter 1:1) in a country that’s hostile toward Christians.

The backpack they carry is light. It used to be filled with church programs for men and women. Youth and children. Bureaucracies. Buildings. Worship services. Bible studies. Board meetings.

What has emerged is…

  • A crazy willingness for adventure while living like the “chosen foreigners” in the U.S. 
  • A willingness to embrace the ambiguous and trust the Holy Spirit to lead and guide.
  • A trained confidence that God can be trusted to provide and protect.
  • Energy. Enthusiasm. A deep and abiding faith that comes with being on the outside.
  • A deep devotion to the Word of God and the central person of Jesus.
  • Relationships are everything. Believers depend upon each other.
  • Consumerism has left the building.

…all of it starting to emerge. 

Unfortunately, most churches a decade earlier…

  • Minimized the obvious cultural warning signs everywhere.
  • Chose not to embrace the journey. 
  • Found the leadership challenge too daunting.

The believers in 2030 have a deep sense of being…

  • Covenantally linked to God. Like Abraham! Needing to trust God in the face of opposition greater than themselves.
  • Called to live without compromise. Like Daniel! Faithful yet committed to being a blessing to those with whom they neighbor and work. 
  • Called to be representatives of God. Like Joseph! In Egypt. Humbly stating, “I can’t interpret dreams but God can.” (Genesis 41:16) (Suffering and marginalization has produced humility and reminded the church of the Source of its confidence.)

In 2030, the church finds itself depending upon the non-Christian community. People who demonstrate peace (Luke 10:6). They actually become partners in what the church is doing.  They help. They open doors. They make connections…in a miraculous sort of way.

And, in 2030 church consumerism is gone. Believers no longer move from church to church for better preachers, nicer buildings, bigger organs or better bands, more convenient times of worship. It’s not “convenient” to declare “Jesus is Lord” in 2030.  

In many ways this sprouting, vibrant church in 2030 possesses these marks because a decade earlier believers started to act their way into a new way of thinking. They were challenged and encouraged to a new level of followership. Similar to Jesus and the 72 in Luke 10. 

PLI Leadership

So, the last two weeks we asked you to get the right leaders in your church signed up for this blog so you could react and respond to it together. We know that if you’re a solo leader you have absolutely no chance (humanly speaking) of helping your congregation start investing in a different 2030 future. If you don’t have them signed up; sign them up now.

And, if you do… React together.

  • Compare where your church is at today to this 2030 picture of the church.
    • What stirs you that you like?
    • What don’t you like?
    • What do you think might be wrong with our description? (We humbly think it might be wrong too.)
  • If the sending of the 72 in Luke 10 were to offer us some clues on our journey toward 2030, what could we learn?
  • Who needs to be added to this conversation among your church leaders before The Church in 2030 Part 2?

3 Responses

  1. Steve Wiechman says:

    This has been our life for almost 5 years now. I commend PLI for helping shape leaders for a different landscape that God has been shaping by His Spirit for a long time already. I would add that these believers will often find church systems and church attitudes to be just as hostile, if not more, than the culture.
    Also…while “in-the-light” community (1 John 1:7) is vital to this new-old way of being church, I’ve found it to be elusive and difficult to cultivate. But when you do find it, it is beautiful. I think the lonely times God is using to deepen dependence on Him and to prove His trustworthiness.
    Just some thoughts. Thanks for writing this blog.

  2. Eric says:

    Could you explain what you mean by a lighter backpack that seems to exclude worship and Bible Study from the backpack of the faithful? I’m just seeking clarity. I would imagine you’re not saying, being in His Word is unnecessary. However, could you clarify? Thanks for your thought-provoking articles.

    • Nikke Ryner says:

      Yes. You imagine correctly Eric! Thanks for the clarification. I can see where my language was not clear. Worship together. Engaging in Word and Sacrament together must remain central to the life of the body. The shift is away from delivering programs and events to cultivating relationships inside and outside the church and allowing confidence in God guiding and leading to grow. Thanks Eric. Great question.

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