By 2030 much of the institutional church in the U.S. will have significantly collapsed. We’re not wishing it to go away. It just is. It’s exponentially accelerating toward that juncture now!
You can tell that we’re not campaigning to win a popular vote right now!
It’s incumbent upon us to help give birth to what comes next… different as it might be, but deeply rooted in faithfulness to the Word of God and the central gospel of Jesus Christ.
Next week we will start to share a picture of what a vibrant church in 2030 might look like.
3 words of disclosure before anything else:
- We’re champions for your pastor and spouse (if married). Big believers. They’re facing a difficult task. (See graph above…69% of Americans say religious leaders act unethically.)
- We’re cheering for your congregation to thrive, not die, by 2030.
- We’re thinking it’s a difficult path forward. You can’t do it alone. You can’t wait too long.
Put us in the camp of hopefully realistic!
We’d simply like to invite you along on the journey and for you to invite your leadership teams to join in the weekly offerings over the next six or seven weeks, recognizing that it’s a journey you won’t successfully navigate alone.
Allow us to offer two illustrations today.
A few years ago we stepped in to assist a spiraling congregation in rapid decline. You would not be surprised to know that they were: Discouraged. Frustrated. Fighting. Unhappy. How they got there is less important than what happened next.
They recognized that their situation could be terminal. They started building hope.
They gathered members in groups around a meal. Everyone contributed…
- Tell a story when our church was at its best.
- What needs to change?
- What needs to be kept?
- What do we need to start?
Together they prioritized. Together they made a plan. Together they charted a course. Together leaders led. Together they began the difficult task of pointing toward a new future if God would so bless it.
We did a similar thing, personally, with a U Haul truck when we moved to Nashville after decades in Chicago. We were downsizing to a much smaller home after decades of collecting and accumulating. Some of which would go forward with us into the future, other things would not.
We made 3 piles:
- Pile #1 Keep. Goes to Nashville.
- Pile #2 Give away. Throw away. It’s not going to Nashville.
- Pile #3 Undecided. Too difficult to decide now.
Much of Pile #3 ultimately we had to say: “We’ve loved you. You’ve served us well. Now we must say, ‘Good-bye,’” and place it in Pile #2.
The Church, your church, if it survives and thrives in 2030, will be saying good-bye to a lot of things that have served it well.
Our larger concern is that you’ll procrastinate in developing the new skills, the new posture, the new convictions that you’ll need. You’ll procrastinate too long. You’ll wait until it’s too late.
“Stop seeing a shrinking church body as a threat and start seeing the opportunity.”1000YoungLeader participant
We believe the future is bright—very different, but bright—for congregations that can build some collective leadership courage who don’t wait too long.
It’s so easy in the midst of being deeply invested in the rhythms and routines of the congregation to deceive ourselves that our reality is not as harsh as it is. Therefore, we do nothing differently.
Next week we’ll start to share a picture of what a vibrant 2030 might look like for the Chrisitan church in the U.S.
Bring some of your leadership core along.
- Let them disagree.
- Say it ain’t so.
- Be challenged.
But, bring them along. None of us gets there by ourselves.
Gail & Jock Ficken
PLI Executive coLeaders