How Church Has Changed in the Last Decade

How Church Has Changed in the Last Decade

Change or die.

Such has been the reality of too many congregations the past 10 years as the rate of church closures has accelerated. Many have died; others are on life support.

But what are some of the major changes that have taken place in congregations that are doing relatively well? What are some of the ways these congregations have adapted to new realities? Here is a hint: None of the changes in healthy churches have compromised doctrine, diminished the centrality of preaching or abandoned sharing the gospel.

So what changes have occurred in healthy churches in the last decade? Here are eight of them:

  1. Today: Smaller worship gatherings.
    10 years ago: Larger worship gatherings.
    There are several factors impacting this change, among them more multi-site churches, more non-traditional worship times, and a desire among the Millennials to be a part of a smaller gathering rather than a larger gathering.
  1. Today: Smaller church facilities
    10 years ago: Larger church facilities
    There are three major issues at work here. First, church leaders are more hesitant to spend funds on largely unused facilities. Second, churches are building with less space for adult small groups or Sunday school, and are choosing to have those groups meet off-site or on non-worship days. Third, the smaller worship gathering noted above means smaller worship centers.
  1. Today: First priority staff person hired: children’s minister
    10 years ago: First priority staff person hired: worship leader
    This shift is largely influenced by the large Millennial generation and their children. Millennials are looking for a church that is safe, sanitary, educational and fun for their children.
  1. Today: Ministry degree optional for church staff members
    10 years ago: Ministry degree strongly preferred for church staff
    Churches today are more likely to call someone on staff from within their congregations. That person may not have a Bible college or seminary degree.
  1. Today: Emphasis on congregational singing
    10 years ago: Emphasis on performance singing
    Healthy churches are seeing an awakening of congregational singing today. Ten years ago, contemporary churches emphasized the performance of the praise team and band, while traditional churches emphasized the performance of the choir and soloists.
  1. Today: Community focus
    10 years ago: Community myopia
    Too many churches the past two decades all but abandoned their communities and are paying the price for their short-sightedness today. Healthy churches realize that the community is their place of ministry, their “Jerusalem” of Acts 1:8.
  1. Today: Vital importance of groups
    10 years ago: Marginal importance of groups
    Healthy churches today make groups (community groups, home groups, Sunday school, life groups, etc.) a high priority. Ten years ago, many church leaders did not see how groups could enhance the health of the church in discipleship, evangelism, prayer, ministry and fellowship.
  1. Today: Church leaders are continuous learners
    10 years ago: Church leaders were “degree and done”
    For several decades, church leaders essentially ended their education process with a college or seminary degree. In today’s ever-changing world, leaders of healthy churches have intentionally established a discipline of continuous learning.

These eight major shifts took place in a relatively brief period.

More are on the way.

Are you ready?

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  • Robert W. Strong

    Excellent, relevant and timely information. Hope this at least facilitates analysis that leads to positive change and prolonged church health.

    Question: Does your research reflect commonality or differences in predominantly African American congregations in the United States?

  • Hendry Grobler

    What about the importance of standing with Israel? And the huge importance of May14th 1948 and The Six Day War June 5th 1967? And not to forget the Book of the Maccabees ( Historical in nature ) and reading that book will open the eyes to the importance of the Feast of Dedication found in John 10: 25 and so on?