That’s just 20 years from now. Here are some predictions for just 20 years from now:
- World population will top 9 billion people
- Deafness, at any stage, is cured
- Global internet traffic grows to 1,412 exabytes (one exabyte equals one billion gigabytes)
- Criminals will be judged by artificial intelligence
- 47% of today’s jobs will not exist in 2038 due to machine automation
- Remember Y2K? It happens again (or doesn’t) on January 19, 2038.
- Some cities will establish car-free policies
- And where there are cars, technology will practically eliminate traffic jams
- 3D printing will revolutionize production and delivery of goods
But what will the church look like in 20 years?
How will the kids that are right now running around in the nursery at your church lead the church in 2039?
Well… quite frankly… much of that depends on us.
In fact, pretty much all of it depends on us and how we prepare them.
Any look at church history will show dramatic changes and shifts in the church, especially over our lifetime. You can only expect that rate of change to increase in today’s cultural climate.
What might the church look like in 20 years in 2039?
- Churches didn’t hold services on Sundays
- Churches didn’t hold services in big rooms
- Churches didn’t hold services at all
- Churches didn’t have buildings
- Churches did everything virtually
- Churches met in homes and small groups exclusively
- Churches determined they didn’t need current staffing models
- Churches joined together and branded themselves (like Starbucks)
- The music you enjoy is now considered out of style
- Sermons were only 10 minutes long
- Sermons didn’t exist
- Services were available on demand by Artificial Intelligence
- Regular attendees came just one time per month
- Your congregation is made up of 20% LGBT community
Do you ever think of what significant changes like this would mean for your church?
Will your church adapt and change, yet stay faithful to the gospel?
How do you do that?
1. Always be aware of what’s coming. For example, Facebook use among teenagers is down 20 percent in 20 years. That’s huge. Many of us are acting like Facebook will be around forever. A better play: start now experimenting where the young people are going: Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat.
2. Don’t fret about it. Change happens whether we like it or not. It’s not something to worry about. That doesn’t mean you have to embrace every shift, but it does mean that you have to navigate and lead through it.
3. Don’t ignore it. Our country is full of churches (in every town) that have ignored cultural change for decades. They are dying and probably won’t make it to 2038. Your church may not either if you don’t learn from their mistakes.
4. Build into the next generation. Give them great theological training. Give them opportunities to serve. Get them excited about the future of the church.
5. Put aside your pride. You won’t personally like some of the things that the future will hold for your church. But if you keep your leadership tightly to those things you prefer, you’ll become obsolete. (See number 3).
It's not too early to start planning. 2039 will be here before we know it!