TRENDS & 7 Church Leadership Trends for the 2020s by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader & @OutreachMag

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  1. Autocratic leadership will continue to be replaced by transformational leadership. Autocratic leadership occurs when a more knowledgeable “elder leader” tells or directs others what to do. Better described as “paternal leadership,” it is less attractive to millennials who have experienced leadership decisions through collaboration and over electronic mediums. Transformational leadership however occurs when a leader publicly demonstrates that he or she wants to improve and transform their own leadership style while helping people become transform their lives too. We see this latter aspect in Jesus’ leadership, when he didn’t castigate or excommunicate the leaders he was developing when they failed in their leadership (for example, Simon Peter’s fails are recorded over a dozen times, Matt 15:16, Mark 10:13, Luke 22:24, Matthew 17:24, etc.)
  2. Leaders will encourage several organizational visions built around one mission. A mission is a church’s biblically based “reason for being” according to Barna, McIntosh, and Whitesel/Hunter. Also according to these authors a vision is a specific, envisioned, future outcome. But since churches are becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-congregational, trying to focus on just one version won’t get enough buy-in from most congregants. Today what I label “micro-visions” create short-term wins, because they are quicker to attain and can be quickly embraced by different church subcultures. This does not mean a large number of visions. The average church today is only 75 attendees and might have just a couple of visions suitable for its size. A mega-church of several thousand, however, might have 6 to 8 visions representing different congregational cultures. For example, traditional members might envision a choir, Sunday school classes and reaching out to a senior living center nearby. The church’s millennials might have a vision for interactive sermons, online small groups and reaching out to homeless people in their communities. Churches are realizing that they are increasingly multicultural organizations and so to work together they must embrace one biblical mission with several different visions.
  3. Leaders will willingly live on less. Millennials are skeptical of leaders who proverbially “feather their own nests” with monies from the congregation. Younger generations have seen leaders become disconnected, for example when baby boomer leaders lived a much higher lifestyle than the congregants they served. Millennials are determined to change this. For example, millennial church planters are increasingly bi-vocational and many full-time millennial pastors are choosing to become bi-vocational to better connect with non-churchgoers. Living slightly under the median income of the congregation one serves (rather than slightly above it) will increasingly become the new norm.
  4. Leadership will be learned through artificial intelligence, virtual reality, online courses and even gaming. Online learning continues to be a disruptor that is making specific leadership topics available to leaders that need them quickly. Online certification programs such as ChurchLeadership.university, InterimPastor.university, etc. are making high-quality education in specific topics, available at a small fee to many people around the world.
  5. Leaders will increasingly spend more of their time with non-churchgoers and the needy, balancing their time between them and Christians. Fuller professor Donald McGavran warned of “redemption and lift,” meaning the longer a person is a Christian the more they are lifted out of the daily world of the non-churchgoer and thus increasingly insensitive to the needs of non-churchgoers. John Wesley, living 300 years earlier, recognized this too and required all leadership groups to serve the needy on a regular basis. Tomorrow’s leaders recognize that staying connected to the needs of those that don’t yet have a personal relationship with Christ is equally as important as spending time with Christians. Jesus spent time with those who needed him but did not yet believe in him, even to the chagrin of his family (Mark 3:20-34).
  6. Leaders will increasingly be about leading non-churchgoers further along their spiritual journey, not just about leading Christians. In the next decade, Christian leadership will be less and less about leading a church, but increasingly about leading non-churchgoers toward better lives and potentially a relationship with Christ. In the past, being a good church leader was mainly about helping Christians develop their skills. But emerging leaders are recognizing that leadership is equally about helping nonbelievers move closer to Christ on their belief journey. My friend and Fuller professor Richard Peace tells about witnessing to a young atheist, who afterword said that he was no longer an atheist, but now agnostic. At first Richard was discouraged, hoping to see this young man have a conversionary experience. But then Richard realized he had helped this young seeker move one step closer to understanding who Jesus is and having a personal relationship with him. Richard began to pray for that young man, having seen a movement in that man’s spiritual journey towards the ultimate experience of transformation.
  7. Respected leaders won’t be leaders of big congregations, but leaders who are growing and changing. Over the years I’ve seen a great deal of distrust develop regarding leaders of large churches, some of it earned but most of it an occupational hazzard. A natural distancing occurs in leadership (remember McGavran’s warning of “redemption and lift”) that brings about suspicion and skepticism in some of those that want to be led. Subsequently, followers in the next decade increasingly want to know that their leaders are continually learning and changing for the better. They want to watch leaders repent, adjust and rely on the Holy Spirit to improve, called sanctification (Mark 11:12-25, 2 Cor. 3:18, Phil. 3:12, etc.). The next decade’s leader will not seen as on a pedestal, but upon a journey of self discovery with the Holy Spirit at her or his guide.

Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/7-church-leadership-trends-for-the-2020s/

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TRENDS & Barna’s “State of the Church 2020″ lists “Pastors’ Concerns for the Christian Church in the U.S.” = “watered down Gospel teachings,” secularization, discipleship & “addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity.”

“What’s on pastors’ minds? It’s not religious liberty” by , Religion News Service, 2/10/20.

…According to the (Barna “State of the Church 2020″) report, three-quarters (72%) of Protestant pastors identify the impact of “watered down gospel teachings” on Christianity in the U.S. as a major concern. That’s especially true for pastors in non-mainline denominations (78%). Mainline pastors (59%) are less concerned.

About two-thirds (66%) of pastors say a major concern for Christianity is “culture’s shift to a secular age,” followed by 63% who identified “poor discipleship models” as a major concern and 58% who named “addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity,” the survey says.

In their own churches, most pastors reported that the major concerns they face are “reaching a younger audience” (51%) and “declining or inconsistent outreach and evangelism” (50%), according to the report.

What doesn’t worry pastors very much: religious liberty — the stuff of Supreme Court cases, executive orders, campaign promises and a recent task force and summit. Only 23% of Protestant pastors identify it as a major concern or issue facing the Christian church today in the U.S., and 32% said it was not a concern or issue at all, according to Barna Group data.

Other issues low on pastors’ list of major concerns include keeping up with technology and digital trends (7%), online churches and other challenges to the traditional church model (11%), “celebrity pastors pulling people away from the local church” (19%), the declining influence pastors have in their communities (20%) and the role of women in the church (23%).

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/02/10/whats-the-state-of-the-church-barna-group-launches-project-to-survey-local-national-church/

TRENDS & 6 Pop Culture Examples That Show Faith Isn’t Taboo Anymore.

by Paul Jankowski, Forbes Magazine, 1/2/19.

..,I’ve been studying the role faith plays in marketing to the New Heartland for over a decade. As one of the three core values this cohort, which makes up 60% of the country, prioritizes in their decision-making process, it’s important to explore its relevance in today’s society. 

…Get to a place where you understand the role faith plays.

Lately, entertainment and faith have been intersecting in ways that reflect a New Heartland state of mind. 

Faith and its connection to pop culture is gaining ground with both New Heartland and non-New Heartland personalities leading the way. 

… Here are 6 examples from 2019 of pop culture heavyweights leaning into faith, not away from it…

2. Eric Church Faces Monsters with Prayer 

2019 was the year of embracing faith in country music. Some notable songs featuring faith include Matt Stell’s “Prayed For You,” Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” and Little Big Town’s“The Daughters,” fans were introduced to “Monsters” by Eric Church at the end of the summer. Church sings about the power of prayer when faced with difficult times. Since his first EP, “Sinners Like Me,” Church has danced with faith in his lyrics to much success. 

3. Chance the Rapper Gets Inspiration from Above 

Since Chance the Rapper declared himself as a Christian rapper in 2018, he has lived out the lifestyle very publicly. He uses Jesus’ name on network TV, volunteers for Kids of the Kingdom in his hometown of Chicago, and shares his message of faith through his music. His 2018 single, “Blessings,” opens with the line “I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ’til I’m gone. When the praises go up, the blessings come down.” 

  • 4. Dolly Parton Takes Traditional Values to a Non-Traditional Genre

    Swedish DJs Galantis and Dutch singer Mr. Probz approached Parton with a proposal to sing on their EDM remake of John Hiatt’s 80s hit, “Faith.” Many of her country songs have been re purposed as party mixes, but this is the first time she collaborated on a venture of this type outside of her bluegrass roots. Her collaborations following 18 years away from the stage are predominantly faith-focused. In addition to “Faith,” Parton joined forces with For King and Country earlier in 2019 on their song “God Only Knows.” 

    Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/pauljankowski/2020/01/02/6-pop-culture-examples-that-show-faith-isnt-taboo-anymore-brands-take-note/#2566ca465f27

    TRENDS & Share of Americans With No Religious Affiliation Is Rising Significantly, New Data Shows

    by David Crary, Time Magazine, 10/17/19.

    The portion of Americans with no religious affiliation is rising significantly, in tandem with a sharp drop in the percentage that identifies as Christians, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

    Based on telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, Pew said Thursday that 65% of American adults now describe themselves as Christian, down from 77% in 2009. Meanwhile, the portion that describes their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

    Both Protestant and Roman Catholic ranks are losing population share, according to Pew. It said 43% of U.S. adults identify as Protestants, down from 51% in 2009, while 20% are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.

    Pew says all categories of the religiously unaffiliated population – often referred to as the “nones” grew in magnitude. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up from 2% in 2009; agnostics account for 5%, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009.

    Read more at … https://time.com/5704040/american-religious-affiliations-decreasing/

    TRENDS & 7 Surprising Trends Of Today’s Worldwide Growth of Christianity via #LifeWay

    by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 6/11/19.

    …The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary regularly publishes the Status of Global Christianity. Evaluating their research and predictions provides an encouraging and potential surprising picture for the current and future state of Christianity.

    1. CHRISTIANITY IS GROWING FASTER THAN THE POPULATION.

    Globally, Christianity is growing at a 1.27% rate. Currently, there are 2.5 billion Christians in the world. The world’s population, 7.7 billion, is growing at a 1.20% rate.

    Islam (1.95%), Sikhs (1.66%) and Hindus (1.30%) are the only religious groups growing faster than Christianity, though followers of Jesus outnumber every other faith and are predicted to continue to do so at least through 2050.

    2. PENTECOSTALS AND EVANGELICALS ARE GROWING THE FASTEST AND ARE STILL PICKING UP SPEED.

    Among Christian groups, Pentecostals (2.26%) and evangelicals (2.19%) are growing faster than others.

    They are both also growing faster than they did just two years ago. In 2017, Pentecostals’ growth rate was 2.22% and evangelicals was 2.12%.

    3. ATHEISM HAS PEAKED.

    There are fewer atheists in the world today (138 million) than there were in 1970 (165 million).

    Since 2000, atheism has rebounded slightly—only by 0.04%—but it is expected to decline again and fall below 130 million by 2050.

    Agnosticism has maintained a small growth rate of 0.42%. After reaching 716 million this year, however, it is expected to drop below 700 million by 2050.

    4. CHRISTIANITY IS GROWING IN CITIES, BUT NOT FAST ENOUGH.

    Today, 1.64 billion Christians live in urban areas, growing at a 1.58% rate since 2000.

    But more than 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and that is only continuing to grow.

    The global urban population is growing at a 2.15% rate.

    5. THE CENTER OF CHRISTIANITY HAS MOVED TO THE GLOBAL SOUTH.

    In 1900, twice as many Christians lived in Europe than in the rest of the world combined. Today, both Latin America and Africa have more. By 2050, the number of Christians in Asia will also pass the number in Europe.

    Currently, Christianity is barely growing in Europe (0.04% rate) and only slightly better in North America (0.56%).

    Oceania (0.89) and Latin America (1.18%) have marginally better rates, but the faith is exploding in Asia (1.89%) and Africa (2.89%).

    Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2019/06/11/7-surprising-trends-in-global-christianity-in-2019/

    TRENDS & 73% of American churches are declining & we are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches (from 12% to 3%) and a marked increase in churches declining toward death (10% to 19%). #LifeWay

    by Thom Rainer, LifeWay, 6/3/19.

    Based upon an aggregate of several research projects, I made some notes of growth and decline rates of churches and summarized my estimates into five categories by worship attendance changes over the previous five-year period. I compiled the following numbers ten years ago:

    Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2009

    • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 12%
    • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 23%
    • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 34%
    • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 21%
    • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 10%

    This past week I conducted the same exercise based on some of my updated research and the research of others and estimated the following:

    Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2019

    • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 3%
    • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 24%
    • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 32%
    • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 22%
    • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 19%

    My numbers admittedly are estimates, but they do have some quantitative basis, such as denominational statistics, research by LifeWay Research, and the data available in the increasing number of consultation and coaching requests we receive.

    Obviously, the staggering reality of these numbers is the pronounced change in the two extreme categories. We are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches and a marked increase in churches declining toward death.

    Read more at … https://thomrainer.com/2019/06/the-faster-pace-of-decline-toward-death-of-many-congregations/

    TRENDS & Graphs Reveal Evangelicals Show No Decline, Despite Trump and Nones (but mainline church affiliation is declining)

    by Ryan Burge, Christianity Today, 3/21/19.

    … As Tobin Grant, editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, pointed out: “Changes in religion are slow. No group gains or loses quickly.” (The “nones,” a popular term for the religiously unaffiliated, being an exception—gaining faster than other affiliations tend to because they pull from multiple faith groups.)

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    That’s mostly what the 2018 GSS results show us. Evangelicals—grouped in this survey by church affiliation—continue to make up around 22.5 percent of the population as they have for much of the past decade, while the nones, now up to 23.1 percent themselves, keep growing. (For comparison, the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Survey put evangelicals at 25.4 percent and the religious nones at 22.8 percent.)

    Slideshow

    Other than one outlier—a slight peak of 24.7 percent in 2012—evangelicals have ranged from 22.5 percent to 24 percent of the US population over the past 10 years. Still, this steadiness doesn’t mean “no change” among the evangelical population. There is always a “churn” occurring within any religious group. People leave the group because of death or defection, while new members either grow up in the faith or convert as adults.

    Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/march/evangelical-nones-mainline-us-general-social-survey-gss.html