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."
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