A few days ago we ended a decade and began a brand new one. I've been thinking quite a bit about what has changed in the church world in the past ten years. You'll have to consider the source: I'm not a church historian, and my view is limited to what I see. But I have been a"church professional" (arghhh, I hate the sound of that!) for almost 25 years and have seen many changes. My view on what has changed...
2000: Church buildings were mostly viewed as status symbols. Respect for a pastor was high if he or she had a new building. An emphasis on style and design was beginning to creep back into the church construction industry. Everyone came to one location to worship. 2010: You only build if absolutely necessary. The need to have everyone at one location has been eliminated by technology. Money spent on extravagant buildings is seen as wasteful, and the definition of what is "extravagant" is lower than it was ten years ago.
2000: Everyone went to Willow Creek. Or Saddleback. Or a handful of other mombo-churches to learn the newest and best of what was working. These conferences were inspiring. 2010: Inspiring is over-rated. Church leaders want practical. Now there are hundreds of specialty conferences hosted by churches of all sizes. And with the training available on the web, many choose to stay home.
2000: "You want to meet Jesus and grow spiritually? Come to church this Sunday." We expected people to come to us. Playing off Clinton's effective campaign slogan ("It's about the economy, stupid!"), churches adopted "It's About the Weekend, Stupid!" as their rallying cry. 2010: Churches are becoming more intentional about helping people integrate their faith into their daily lives...not just for a few hours on Sunday. We are less concerned about attendance and more concerned about outcomes.
2000: We hired professionals. Pastors and directors were being hired left and right to lead or do ministry. A senior pastor was being transformed from a shepherd and teacher to a manager and CEO. 2010: The realities of a tough economy hit and more and more churches are reducing staff--not hiring. Volunteers are being called on for high capacity roles like campus pastor and children's ministry director. Church leaders are learning new skills--like leading people who aren't motivated by a paycheck and who are significantly more qualified in a role than the pastor is.
In my next post I'll conclude my thoughts.
But for now, tell me what you think. Do you see the same changes? Any others you would add?