LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Church As We Have Always Done It Will Find Increasingly Fewer Participants

You may have heard that I'm a Christ-follower who serves at a United Methodist church (UMC). Your view of the UMC may be that it is traditional, side-lined, and non-innovative. In many cases, you'd be right. But there are flickers of hope. One such "flicker" in my conference is Ed Fenstermacher. He's been a part of the UMC for decades--yet has kept an open mind and finds new ways to breathe life into the system. I appreciated a recent blog that Ed posted. He writes...

Eddie Gibbs, in his book ChurchMorph, has identified at least five changes, or megatrends, as he calls them, happening in our culture at present.  They are the shifts from modernity to postmodernity, from the industrial age to the information age, from Christendom to post-Christendom, from production to consumerism, and from religious identity to spiritual exploration.  Books have been written on each of these.  The amazing aspect of them is that they are converging in our time, causing seismic shifts in our culture which require paradigm shifts in our thinking.  In this environment, “church as we have always done it” will find increasingly fewer participants.  Just as financial advisors are needing to modify basic principles they have used for years in this new economic scenario, so will those doing church development need to consider new ways to impact their mission fields.

And then Ed draws some conclusions...

Of course, the church will be slow to respond.  The classic bell curve used to show acceptance of innovation applies here.  Since the church is not feeling immediate drastic consequences of the cultural changes, most church folk, including leaders, will be glacial in accepting the need for change.  Ample evidence abounds indicating that even when change is clearly needed, change is very difficult to implement. (Read Ed's entire article here.)

I am so encouraged to read of one of our conference leaders thinking "out of the box" thoughts like this. It is right in line with what I've talked about in relation to being attractional AND missional--and fits the precise topic of our November conference called AND.

Do you think Ed is right? If these changes are coming, will the church be slow to shift?