Sunday, October 27, 2013

25 Things That Will Occur in the American Church During the Next 25 Years

As I think about the church in this country, I am optimistic. That may seem surprising since a good number of my posts have a negative tone (I'm working on changing that). I'm optimistic for two reasons. First, the church belongs to Jesus Christ. He is going to accomplish his will for his church and nothing is going to hinder that. Second, Christendom is rapidly disintegrating. It's basically gone in Europe, and we're nearing the end in the USA. The church is always healthier when it doesn't have preferred status in secular society.

Over the next twenty-five years many changes will occur within the church in this country. For the most part those changes will, I believe, be for the better. The following is a list of twenty-five things we will see as we move forward. The list is a mix of positive and negative, and is in no particular order:

1. Churches will get bigger (mega-churches) and smaller (simple churches).

2. Church attendance will decline.

3. More and more Christians will not attend anywhere.

4. Christians will increasingly search for real, meaningful relationships.

5. For an increasing number of believers, relationships will trump doctrine.

6. The gospel will be viewed as primary, with other doctrines taking on less and less importance.

7. Women will play an ever increasing and important role in the life of the church.

8. The definition of discipleship will shift from head knowledge to obedience.

9. Persecution will increase; religious liberty will continue to erode.

10. Churches will become more and more technology-driven.

11. Because of cost the USA will send fewer missionaries overseas.

12. American churches will fund an increasing number of national missionaries in their home countries.

13. More missionaries from other countries will come to the USA.

14. Denominational lines will blur.

15. Numerous seminaries will close; those remaining will grow larger.

16. Clergy will decrease in significance, while the laity rises.

17. More and more paid pastors will become bi-vocational.

18. The Republican Party will distance itself from conservative Christians.

19. Churches will lose financial breaks from the government.

20. False teaching will increase.

21. Churches will gather in increasingly non-traditional locations.

22. Good works will increase.

23. Churches will increasingly care more for the poor and needy.

24. Churches will become more and more ethnically diverse.

25. Unity within the Christ's church as a whole will increase significantly.

What do you think? Am I wrong about anything? Did I leave anything out?


Jeremy Myers said...

Alright! Prophecy! Now I get to stone you when it doesn't happen!

Just kidding. Great list. I hope much of it actually does come true... especially 23, 24, 25.

Aussie John said...


Absolutely credible!

Eric said...


No stones! At least I didn't claim divine inspiration for this list.

I really am optimistic about the church. It would be wonderful to see many of these things happen. The fall of Christendom will put us, as the church, in a position to make these things happen more easily. Let's do it!

Eric said...


Thanks! I agree that everything on the list is possible. I'm hoping for all of the positive ones.

Arthur Sido said...

No stoning, in these modern and enlightened days they just have a conference to denounce you.

I agree with number 1 especially. The big, flashy media driven churches will get bigger and bigger and the small, simpler churches will grow more numerous but the mid-sized congregation (around 100 perhaps?) will die out. I think 12 is unlikely, as budgets get squeezed I am afraid that the big churches will grow more inward focused rather than outward, concerned with meeting their own budget while small churches don't have the critical mass to support indigenous missionaries. That might be an area for opportunity, smaller scale missions boards that are united across denominational lines to fund indigenous missionaries. In fact that might be a good stand alone blog post.

I think we are already seeing number 18, as the GOP (or at least the old line leadership) are increasingly seeing evangelicals as more of a liability than an asset.

Curious what you mean by number 7 though? Women are already a critical part of the church, in many ways they carry more than their fair share. What is the greater role you see? I am actually hoping that men step up more in the future.

These are good conversations to have, the church by and large is not looking ahead to ministry in a post-Christendom world that is hostile to expressions of Christianity and now is the time to get ready for the future.

Eric said...


Number seven stems from the rise of simple churches and the fall of congregational churches. In congregational churches, women are largely uninvolved in the "important" parts of worship services. It is men who dominate the show.

In simple churches, even if their speaking role is limited, women play a more critical role in the gatherings. They are active rather than passive.

As for behind the scenes service to the church during the week, women are, as you said, probably already doing too much. It is in this way that I'd also like to see men do more.

Steve Scott said...


Very well thought out. I would add something here. If you kind of combine #3 with #10, individual believers will increasingly use the internet to learn new things about theology that will keep them away from traditional churches.

All over the net I see Christians finding solutions to problems, finding support networks unavailable in their existing churches, etc. eIron sharpens eIron, if you will.

Eric said...


I agree completely. I'm thrilled for this option for believers who struggle to find others locally to gather with. It my be electronic community, but it is a better alternative to no community.

Arthur Sido said...

It is not a stretch to say that the internet is the modern equivalent of the printing press in breaking the grip of the professional clerical class over the church.

Re: your reply, I get what you are saying but it is not just women that are limited in the traditional gathering of course, the involvement is limited based on power and privilege more than gender.