What's Changing, What's Not
The trends that will be impacting your ministry in the year ahead.

Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network, offers his state of the church in America, based on recent research and his own observations looking through the "keyhole" of large churches.

Things That Are Changing

1. Multi-site churches. According to the book Multi-Site Roadtrip, an estimated 2,000 churches in America use the multi-site model. Travis: "If you're a large church, you're thinking multi-site."

2. Social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use social networking at least once a week. Senior pastors under 40 who are leading large churches all use social media. Travis: "This is a radical shift in how we understand leadership. Fifteen years ago, pastors were wondering how they could be less accessible. Today, younger pastors want more access."

3. Internet campuses. Turnkey solutions are being developed that make it cheap and accessible for all churches to incorporate an internet campus. Travis: "For some this will be a fad, but for others this is going to be a big part of their reaching strategy going forward."

4. Online giving. It's here, and it's growing. If churches want to encourage donations from people in the pews, they're going to have to provide more natural ways for them to give. Travis: "Younger leaders recognize that no one carries cash or checkbooks anymore."

5. Declining mobility rate. Americans have stopped uprooting (that is, relocating at least 10 miles from their current home) at the pace they used to. According to a Nielsen study, the percent of the U.S. population that moves is at an all-time low. This could spell trouble for churches whose growth is tied to the turnover rate.

Things We'll See Changing Soon

1. Women as teaching pastors. Travis: "Currently, only 8 percent of churches have women teachers. They'll soon be part of multi-teacher teams."

2. Missionaries coming to the U.S. from developing countries to plant churches here. Travis: "This will not be just for their kinship group but under the wider mandate of the Great Commission."

3. Funerals. Travis: "We are seeing more cremations. And funerals are becoming more of a community experience, not pastor- or funeral parlor-led." More evening funerals have implications for church facilities. Wise funeral homes will not build chapels and instead partner with churches.

Things That Should Be Changing by Now But Aren't

1. Greener churches. Travis: "Going green adds credibility in the community. I would have thought more churches would have embraced this opportunity by now."

2. Ministries to the "encore" generation (55+). Travis: "With the huge baby boomer population in this demographic, I'm surprised we're not seeing growth for this sector." Of course, many are boomer churches.

3. Remote church offices. "More churches should be looking at moving their administrative offices out of the church building and into less expensive office space. This could help churches gain much-needed ministry space instead of having to build or relocate."

January 27, 2010

Displaying 1–10 of 19 comments

Review of Copy Paste Traffic

January 13, 2011  5:10am

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Melody Hanson

February 04, 2010  1:07pm

1. Women as teaching pastors. Travis: "Currently, only 8 percent of churches have women teachers. They'll soon be part of multi-teacher teams." Says who? Prove it. Seriously, I need to know. I want to believe it but I need more info.

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Jennifer Wilson

January 31, 2010  8:44pm

I find it fascinating that 3 of the 5 things that are changing now are related to the internet. To me, a list that recognizes this in 2010 seems a bit behind the times. Or rather, it shows how slow the church can be in keeping up with change. Then, in things that WILL be changing, is women teaching pastors. Again, why is the church the last place to fully accept women? Now, I'm not saying it's every church. And I'm not saying we should change quickly with every social / cultural whim. What I am saying, is that as a woman, I never felt like I was treated differently or looked down upon, UNTIL I went to seminary. If the church should be a place of grace, healing, and love - why are we so slow to welcome racial or gender equality, etc? The church has far more authority and power than she usually recognizes. We should be leading social changes, not reluctantly falling behind.

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Ian Kirk

January 30, 2010  12:04am

Odd how church growth (one sentence in this) generated the most comments. As an X-er, and someone who truly loves technology and science, I actually find the first 3 of greatest concern, for it is a sign of the sickness of the church (not the culture). Many of these people only find the love and community they (all humanity) needs online, because the relationships within their immediate physical space are broken. Lastly, during one of the Acts29 meetings, planters were challenged (paraphrased), "do you want a church with lots of people, and growing bigger; or do you want a church the never grows larger than 50, but is always sending." I'm for the latter.

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January 29, 2010  5:02pm

the church should grow. people should meet jesus. people should grow in their faith. the gospel should be advanced.

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January 28, 2010  12:59pm

"I said that a church that is not growing is dying, and you said that by logic, it's a failure. I said no such thing-nice straw man you set up there." My mistake, I should have clarified your definition of what "dying" meant before I assumed my definition was what you were referring too. By my definition, a dying organization indicates failure. So no, it wasn't a strawman, just a misunderstanding of definitions. As for the spirit and intention of your post I will only say that we have something in common...we're both poor judges of character.

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January 27, 2010  10:02pm

I said that a church that is not growing is dying, and you said that by logic, it's a failure. I said no such thing-nice straw man you set up there. The Lord decides what constitutes failure, not internet experts. Churches, like people, will die in time, but that doesn't mean they were failures. Another reason why I usually wind up regretting posting anything on Out of Ur. G

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Denise Fath

January 27, 2010  3:47pm

I understand the urge to put an emphasis on growth, but surely it isn't the priority some of these comments have made it sound like. Isn't a Church's primary focus on helping its parishoners serve God better and be better Christians? And then secondly reaching out and helping neighboring Christians and especially non-Christians? Though growth may help a Church do both of these betters, it's not a necessity. What do all the trends matter if they're not directly related back to those goals?

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January 27, 2010  3:29pm

Declining Mobility Rate: This is huge. The relationship between the mega-churches and American mobility is huge. Most mega-churchs develop in suburbs, where mobility has, by definition, characterized the people that they attend them. Mobility mixes up different Christians, and has a homogenizing effect on churches. This is often lamented by traditionalists (see above comments), but I think that these critiques sometimes miss the way the American economic system, with its emphasis on a mobile workforce, contributes to the problem structurally. A declining mobility may make for a return to church forms that are more rooted in community and active in their neighborhoods and cities, which seems to me a huge move in the right direction. Also, churches should be going green. As Christian, the environmental movement offers us a great opportunity to explain the biblical notion of stewardship to our non-Christian neighbors. As long as we can articulate "green" values in a distinctively Christian way, than we have not only an opportunity, but a duty to explain and then act on those values. That's good discipleship. :)

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Ken Eastburn

January 27, 2010  2:21pm

Things that shouldn't be changing, but are: 1. The Gospel - if it is offensive or hard, ignore it/change it 2. Discipleship - as long as numbers are up, we're good 3. Church - forget the people, come to church on the internet 4. Giving - "Forget" to tithe last week? Click here!

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