The Church in 2062: A Dream Come True or Nightmare?
David Murrow believes celebrity preachers will replace denominations--and that's not a bad thing.

Best known for his books about "Why Men Hate Going to Church," David Murrow has forecasted what the church in America will look like in 50 years. Overall he believes the future looks bright–at least for men–and will bring a needed correction to the overly feminized church that keeps them away.

Here's what he thinks church will look like in 2062:

1. The midsize congregation will disappear.

2. An explosion of satellite campuses and microchurches will occur.

3. There will be a small number of megachurches led by amazingly talented communicators that dominate the country.

Murrow expands on this last idea:

No denominations? You heard me. Since 1517, churches have branded themselves around denomination. But the old brands have died before – and they're dying again. In 2062, churches will brand themselves around their teaching pastors (see I Cor. 1:12):

1600s brands: Calvinist, Puritan, Anabaptist, Quaker, etc.

1800s brands: Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of God, etc.

2000s brands: Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, etc.

By 2062, America will have about 200 well-known preachers. These will be the new brands. They'll all possess three key gifts: (1) God's spirit, (2) amazing communication skills, and (3) ambition. These men will establish satellite campuses and microchurches in every city and town in America. Their messages will be so compelling and so widely distributed they will make mediocre preaching obsolete. That quality gap will drive many churches-on-the-corner out of business. These changes may sound horrifying to you, but in 50 years they will be the norm. And they will bring many advantages.

He then goes on to list the benefits of these shifts, including the consistence and efficiency provided by the celebrity pastor/megachurch model. (To my ear is the echo of McDonald's corporate motto: "One world, one taste.")

Read Murrow's full article.

So, what do you think? Are his predictions correct? And if they are, should we be celebrating these trends or lamenting them? Share your opinions.

October 29, 2012

Displaying 1–10 of 11 comments

Allen Maddox

November 01, 2012  6:24am

Some men may hate going to church, but I am a man and I love going to church. I know some women who hate going to church, so, dont fully understand the central idea there. Also, believers in the 16th c. did not "brand" themselves around "demoninations." That's a misunderstanding of the Reformation where Christians were tortured unmercifully and gave their very lives to worshp freely, not to start a "denominations.' That came later.

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Ann Phillips

October 31, 2012  1:59pm

In 1975 as a Jesus freak, I left the church I was born into because they no longer wanted the services of the youth leaders that discipled me. I thought the place would die, once the few old saints who were left passed on. Lo and behold, I returned in about 15 years to find that God had moved other faithful people in. The place was alive and vibrant with faith. And this is a denominational church, not a megachurch, just medium sized, with a history of grassroots service to the community and church planting in our area. I don't care for this so-called vision, nor do I see a point to it. Most people I know have tried megachurches and found them rather cold and shallow. In our church they find a warm and loving extended family, including pastors who perform marriages and memorial services, and even show up frequently at house parties. In short they do life with us. I think more people are looking for that sort of church than Mr. Murrow could imagine. He can have his megachurch vision. I predict that denominations will be alive and well in the future and the megas will decline.

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October 31, 2012  10:38am

We have totally missed the biblical idea of the Church in 2012. I have little hope that we will get it right in 2062. I do think we are already too man centered and Sunday show focused. Discipleship does not happen. I will go as far to say that the Sunday show is doing more to harm the Christian faith and discipleship than to help.

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Ricardo Johnson

October 31, 2012  12:27am

Can someone tell me, what was the purpose of picking 2062? I would be close to 100 years old to see that time. I think we have alot of problem now to take care of and to pour our energies into. Hopefully America will be the same America and even better. I want to say their will always be leaders that rise above everyone else. I don't think that will stop until Jesus Comes back!

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Bud Brown

October 30, 2012  10:37pm

I see quite the opposite in the future. I have no claim to being a prophet nor the son of, but from where I sit the winds of change are blowing the church in a very different direction in the future. First, the continued rise of the missional church, coupled with the increased scrutiny (and widespread dissatisfaction with) the attractional church does not portend well for the future of the megachurch. Yes, we have always had them with us and we always will. Second, the attractional model on which the megachurches are built is a product of a worldview (modernity) that is passing from the scene. With the death of the last of the boomer consumers, Christians and leaders well before the next 50 years have passed the impetus behind the megachurch (consumerism) will have largely attenuated. Third, we have a growing body of literature indicating that the "nones" and the millennials feel great antipathy toward their parents' church - the mega attractional model. The generations entering adulthood now are looking for substance, depth and an environment that fosters spiritual maturity. While the megachurch can create those environments, it is far easier and more efficient to do so in the smaller churches. Fourth, as we spend the last of the intellectual, cultural and spiritual capital laid up by our forefathers, we will more likely than not enter into a period in which churches will lose their tax advantages and even be faced with an unappreciative government. Can these churches survive when the 2.3% that their members now tithe dries up because there's no tax savings? I am optimistic about the future but not in the author's vision of it.

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October 30, 2012  3:27pm

I don't see how this vision for the future is much of a "vision" at all but rather a magnification of current trends many of which are not good now. And for the record: some Christians are rejecting the current trends. When I really see life in the church I see it in a few specific areas: those who are faithfully holding on in their church ("dying churches" as we call them...yet filled with faith-filled saints) and young new church plants that are very organic and decentralized. The newest church planters seem to spurn celebrity and individualism, and rather are attempting to build eclectic, honest, communities of faith who do life together. They don't have new shiny buildings but meet in homes, bars, other churches, and older spaces within the cities in which they dwell. This honesty and authenticity is in many ways a rejection off the marketing mega-church model parts of Christianity so readily champion. Instead they are very life and mission focused: God with us, not God beamed in with an encouraging message once a week. This movement–I hope–is the future of the Church. BTW, in full disclosure I am not part of one of those churches at this time, but I do find the Church to be there more strongly. One last thought: I was compelled by his prediction that folks will not have to search for a "new" church when they move or travel because they will be able to join the local satellite of that pastor's church. I like the idea but have one better already: I find that when I travel (or move) to new areas, I can prayerfully seek out a church already there and low-and-behold(!) I find the same Church brothers and sisters in Christ that I had not yet met...and this leads me to celebrate all the more God's Great Family in this world!

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Matt Miles

October 30, 2012  11:30am

I don't know much about David Murrow or his book, but I do know this: the biggest problem in society and our churches is voices not getting heard, and this guy thinks the possibility of that phenomenon increasing is a good thing. We need to see Christ in the whole body; not just a few macho celebrity pastors. Who is this guy and why is anyone listening to him?

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Mark Gomez

October 30, 2012  10:45am

You know, generally I try to maintain a fairly positive view of the Church and the future. Reading the full article written by Mr. Murrow really works on my nerves and left me feeling grieved. I have read Murrow's other work, he is entirely too sexist and narrow in his view of the world for me to find reality in all of his findings. Some realities exist, I admit that, but I do not see the American male as nearly so caveman as he does. In this article, once again Mr. Murrow is speaking of things that depart from reality. As Tom F said, movements that are focused on an individual rarely last past the life of the individual or at best, eventually end up a shallow version of the movement when the individual dies. Secondly, there is no good reason to celebrate the idea of anything focused on an individual, let alone the branding of several popular leaders. Having alpha males being a primary focus is never a good thing when it comes to church. This is a part of what caused the divisions in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1) and is nothing to be celebrated. This elevation of dynamic men in ministry is actually a major contributor to the declining condition of the American church. So while Mr. Murrow may like the whole alpha male thing because of his focus on men, God help us to turn away from what is obviously wrong. Alpha males and that mentality may appeal to the flesh but they are no substitute for having Christ being the only male celebrated in any church gathering or context. By the way, strong leaders like Francis Chan demonstrate that you can be a strong leader and remain living with some sense of propriety and humility rather than being an ego-maniac that is self-promoting. While I agree that there is a move away from identification with denominations, the reality is that denominations provide the support structure and framework for many if not most of the good churches in America. Denominations may take a background position, but they are not going away. Then the whole megachurch and multisite campus deal. If this continues to go the way it is with one pastor (celebrity) being the focus, this will not last either. Multisite campuses that are simply running video feeds will have their run of popularity, but people will eventually crave a real pastor, their own pastor… not what is propped up as a secondary or campus pastor. Americans are moving toward the larger churches because they are increasingly moving toward the far end of the consumer mentality when it comes to church life. The larger church has all of the amenities, the smaller church needs everyone and for everyone to participate in church life. Folks are looking for convenience since they are simply religious consumers. Disciples they are not, disciplemaking is not… I hope I am not wrong on this; the possible outcome will not be good for the American Church overall. Finally, turning away from the word of God will ultimately be one of the major contributors to what brings an end to the American church as we know it. As more and more of the popular churches turn to positive messages and "Starbucks cool" as a means of growing a church, the church they will be creating for the future will not be to anyone's ability to tolerate. This is a major failing of the American church leadership; there is little or no view of the future and what they are creating with the marketing scam of church growth. There will be short-term results, but the long-term results will be tragic. The believers in church will be diminished while the churches continue to grow in number. So I ask the questions… Are they truly Christ-followers when they know nothing of the One they claim to be following? Are they truly disciples if they reject many major tenets of the faith? Oh, I am not talking about knowing the details of soteriology, I am talking about American church members who do not any longer believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven…

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October 30, 2012  10:44am

I see Mr. Murrow;s "vision" two ways... 1) If he's being tongue in cheek, then my response is, "oh you!" or 2) If he's being serious, then my response is, "oh you." But here's my prediction for 2062, and you can write it down because I have no idea whether I'm going to be walking or deep six. Read? I predict that the world will look a lot different, and much of what bothers me today will just be an amusing anecdote to Christian historians looking back at how they got to where they are at. In short, little will have changed in the church, but much will have changed in politics and society.

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Tom F.

October 29, 2012  8:29pm

Huh? Taking aside the man thing, predicting 50 years out is fool's work. Predictions like this are inevitably value-laden, meaning they hope to lend an air of inevitability to a situation that the author would like to have happen. In other words, a prediction like this is an argument in disguise. Denominations may not matter; but human nature over the past few thousands years has shown that movements based around individuals fizzle when the individual dies/leaves/falls. Maybe we won't have denominations (perhaps "movements"?), but the idea that organizations will last past the death of their leaders without something more of substance seems very misplaced to me.

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