categories: communication, vision
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July 29th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

28 comments (+ Add)

Think Ahead

Successful people are often great at anticipating.

  • If you want to be promoted as an assistant, anticipate how you can better serve your boss.
  • If you want to be successful in business, anticipate what the market will do.
  • If you want to be successful in church, prayerfully anticipate. What new thing is God going to bless?

I try to think ahead by asking questions like these:

  • How are people relating differently? What will relationships and community look like in two years?
  • How are people going to communicate in the future?
  • What future technology/innovation can help spread the gospel?
  • What trends (business, entertainment, philanthropy, etc.) will affect the church?

Think ahead.

I’d love to hear your theories or ideas about what is coming in the church.


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  1. Jul 29, 2008 at 6:50 am

    *Continued use of technology and video teaching
    *Blending and merging of churches (similar to OnePrayer; however the relationships will be long-term… and teaching will be cross-church and more eclectic)
    *A more ethnically diverse church
    *Everyone will be in church reading their Bible via YouVersion on their I-phone. :-)

    My comment could go on and on… I’m looking forward to every one else’s comments!

  2. Jul 29, 2008 at 7:22 am

    I watch what youth are into. Usually they set trends in music, fashion & technology.

    I believe the church is going to be challeged by religious diversity. We should respond by having open dialogue & apologetics teaching. I don’t think the average church member knows what or why they believe in Jesus.

    In order for the church to survive we will need to get smaller (Life Groups) as it gets larger (multi site).

    I see more church planting & more church closure. Those that close are the ones that will not adapt to the rapidly changing world.

    I see more hostility coming towards churches. I think we will lose “tax free” status in the future unless we are giving intead of begging from the community.

  3. Jul 29, 2008 at 7:26 am

    -Full online Communities, possibly with small groups

    -More multi-use facilities being used for worship, rather than just the “church” building

    -Increased missions…in American Communities

    -Diversity driven ministry represented through staffing, music, and locations

    -More focus on the “majors” and less on the “minors” of denominational beliefs

  4. Jul 29, 2008 at 7:39 am

    I think Kevin is right on it when looking at what youth are doing. To take it one step further and engage youth more in planning/executing/hands on participation.

    I also think there will be more “thinking out of the box”, not simply advancing with the same old things, but continued evolution of new and innovative ideas to reach people.

  5. Jul 29, 2008 at 7:53 am

    -Relational Evangelism
    -Marketplace ministry exploding
    -Diversity will become more wide spread…I call it “the browning” of the church
    -Urbanizing of the church - churches moving in town as people populate the cities more

  6. Jul 29, 2008 at 8:17 am

    I think that the church will (or at least should) become more “everyday,” and less “Sunday.” And I’m not just talking about small groups on Tuesdays or Thursdays. I’m talking about the church’s presence being felt everywhere, everyday - both communally and personally.

  7. Jul 29, 2008 at 8:27 am

    It’s hard for me to say that church will move more online, since I feel like that would just mean that the church is playing catch up. But, it will definitely have an increased presence there.

    As for local church ministry, I think multi-site will become the norm, but not for the same reason that churches have gone multi-site in the past.

    As for multi-cultural churches becoming even more prevalent and more eclectic, I don’t see that happening soon. That will require a culture blending that will take much longer to accomplish. Churches aren’t segregated because of racism or classism any more (for the most part). They’re mostly segregated because of a mutual understanding that different cultures worship God in different ways.

    Whoa. Long comment. Sorry.

  8. Jul 29, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Training will be more accessible for all church leaders across the globe.

    One thing I wrote the other day on my blog was centered around the Future of Worship. Jeff Deyo just taught on this concept at PWI last week, which was a conference for the next generation of Worship Leaders. It was all the ways that we can lead people in more intimate Worship. He used the analogy of a greeting card to his wife. He can come home one day with a beautiful card for his wife (Hallmark style) and she will be happy to see it. But then he will put the card aside and tell his wife how much she means to him. Although the words might not be as structured and amazing as the poem in the card it is far more intimate.

    He goes on to talk about our Worship with God, why does everything have to be so many songs; verse, chorus, end. That through the songs that we sing, we should have the freedom to song within on our own words to God from our heart.

  9. 10Mike
    Jul 29, 2008 at 8:38 am


    This is a wide-open question, but one I thought of while reading this post:

    How should Jesus’ address to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 affect our forward thinking and planning?

  10. Jul 29, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I am loving this post! Being in a small town (3000) I do not have the big-church/big-city challenges that many of the readers have. It is sort of like the east coast catching up to the west coast. :) However, there is a trickle down effect and I need to be ready for it! One of the things I see coming and Kevin already mentioned it is the diversity and the need for teaching. I see a “tolerance” for unbiblical teaching (doctrinal especially) becoming an issue. I see the tolerance of unbiblical faiths (Islam for example) becoming a possible dividing issue in churches. One good trend I do see is that worship is being seen as a 24/7 lifestyle that goes beyond the four walls of the church building.

  11. Jul 29, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Flatter leadership structure or, better, said, millions more “pastors.” the parts of the body are sitting docile in pews, gifted leaders, teachers, pastors, all kinds of gifts are going unused.

    Because we’re trained to do nothing, we’re trained that only the payed pastors have knowledge, responsibility, compassion, or anything valuable to say - This is a HUGE LIE that is killing (KILLING!!!!) the body!!!

    Also, I think community is the next thing. Our churches are anonymous places, there’s very little real community out! This, to me, looks like smaller groups, intimacy, radical honesty, quality time, service together, consistency in meeting.

    I think good stewardship is an idea on the rise. We spend so much on programming and glamour and kids rooms. The next thing is to wisely use our money to serve and love outsiders, rather than building a castle or monolithic church building - and practically ignoring the needs of outsiders.

    Coffee shop churches, churches in commercial venues - mixing church with more public venues - getting church and Jesus more into public life, more mixing of Christians and Non-Christians, that we might save some.

  12. Jul 29, 2008 at 9:11 am

    I’m sorry if I’m being negative - but seriously, we’ve got some serious issues - I think we’re so far from what Jesus intends (as you know and embrace, Craig! Thank you for what you’re doing!)

    outreach through 12 Step ministry - these 12 step programs really are great discipleship programs and teaching people to surrender to God - these really are how Church should be (sorta) - go to a 12 Step meeting this week, read the “12 Traditions of AA”.

    I think with some tweaking, adding Jesus in there, generalizing it to be for people who suck but don’t want to suck (not just alchys), making it a little less anonymous, this could be a HUGE growth opportunity for the Kingdom!

  13. Jul 29, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I agree with Jesse, great point!

  14. 16Jeremy Small
    Jul 29, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I’m with Perry Noble on this one. Look at youth. I work with lost youth on public high school campuses and I have an opinion based on that experience.

    Cutting edge is a must, but its gotta be grass roots, unique and edgy.
    I don’t think online communities are going to attract as many lost people in the next 5-10 as everyone thinks. a) most teens just want to connect with people they know on FB and MS these days. b) most teens I encounter are already tired of it, they are trying to find something else. You can see that in the major shift from MS to FB in the last few years. The need for new is ever increasing.

    I think youth are more concerned than ever with global issues, duh right? But even that is going to need to be more of an experience mixed with the top three criteria.

  15. Jul 29, 2008 at 9:33 am


    Traditional seminaries will either stop training people for jobs that don’t exist or they will die a slow death.

    The Evangelical church will continue to explore ways to engage the culture that go beyond music or entertainment. Someone - or a few someones - will reach an apex of influence, and we’ll see a backlash from both the secular press/culture and the more conservative Evangelicals, who are already hollering “Foul!” will holler even louder. And so it swings….

    We’ll experience another unplugged phase in our love/hate relationship with technology, followed by more really cool innovations, like holographs replacing on-screen services in multi-site congregations.

    We’ll still need people - but we’ll continually have to redefine that it means to engage with them.

    Just some ideas.

  16. Jul 29, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Holographic preaching simulcast to many locations at once…

  17. Jul 29, 2008 at 11:05 am

    very compelling thoughts, thank you all…

    - we will need to facilitate connections for the next generation as they are desperate for intimacy but often unskilled in initiating meaningful relationships

    - continue learning from youth and culture, but dare to be the innovators instead of the followers of mass media - we have the most creative resource of all… God Himself - that trumps billions of dollars of market research any day! Shouldn’t we be beating MTV and YouTube to the punch? What’s NEXT needs to come from the church - come on Next Generation Leaders!

    - never compromise the Word of God which saves and transforms …keep giving them 100% pure Jesus - but we must find new ways to deliver the Goods!

  18. Jul 29, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    A passionate return to America’s cities and inner-cities. I believe God wants to raise up thriving churches in these culturally diverse & economically challenged places. That’s why we’re here in Detroit.

    More than soup-kitchens & homeless shelters - I’m believing for holistic ministry centers (churches). This kind of church-planting requires a different model - you will not get 50-100 families to relocate to the inner-city. But, ‘birthing’ is not the only way to have a ‘child’ - there’s also ‘adoption’.

    I could write lots more about my heart for this. Maybe one day, Craig, I’ll get to sit with you personally and share. I think you’re one of a select group of guys that would jump at this!


  19. Jul 29, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    How can the Church affect the trends of the World?

  20. Jul 29, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Church doors open every day (symbolically and literally)! People love 24/7…we need to keep that in mind.

    - For youth I think it is a future necessity…for example, I think it would be AWESOME for youth to be able to hang out at church on Friday night…in a godly place instead of being bored/lonely and therefore hanging out with friends who are in bad environments (I experienced this myself)) It’s gotta be fun and entertaining! They are looking for things to do and will lean towards negative things if they feel they don’t have any other option.

  21. Jul 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I agree with the thoughts that Sundays are not necessarily going to be the “church” day in the future. Church buildings are not going to be as important. The housing market crunch and desire for more practical buildings will change the way we use our buildings. The focus more on the need for community and the busyness of society is forcing us out of traditional mindsets regarding what or where church is, which is probably a truer picture of church. It may become more of a struggle to know what corporate worship looks like.

  22. Jul 29, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Hi Craig,

    I met you the other day at the Smith’s home-makeover. The reason we started the Film-Makers LifeGroup is exactly due to forward thinking in ministry. We are working on a feature film, but most of what we want to do will minister to people on YouTube and the like. In May of 2007 the aver YouTuber watched 151 minutes of videos. In May of 2008 that jumped to 228 minutes. In April of 2008 over 11 BILLION videos were viewed. This is the link to the first production our LifeGroup did:
    We have a lot of conversations with the athiest community and have seen a few come to Christ. I told you on Monday a little about our current project called “Where Is Thy Sting? God’s Gift of Death” featuring Greg Gunn. Our goal is to have this project done mid-august and our first feature film script hammered out by then ad well.


  23. Jul 30, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Marketplace ministry is the integration of the Good news in the everyday life of the believer. Taking Jesus into the business sector via relationships. The future holds more ministry happening around a conference table than a church pew. How we see people saved is going to change. More and more the church will “be” instead of “do”. What I mean is that Ephesians 4 will be realized as the church becomes an equipping station for believers who will consider their careers etc. as their mission field.

    Thanks Craig. Look forward to seeing you in Seattle with Kevin, would love to hang out some.

  24. 26richard
    Jul 30, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Youth focused – my two teenagers quit going to church on ‘youth night’ because of the circus like environment. There was too much freedom, we are sooooooo worried about opening the doors wide enough for all that we pushing those inside, outside in the process. I went through the same thing when I was a youth so I guess it’s not so much a new trend as an old problem.
    Ease of Accessibility – MAKE downloads easier : At church have areas available so that anyone with any device can download the sermon, notes,…etc. At the web site (NOT JUST ITUNES) have areas available so that anyone with any device can download the sermon, notes,…etc.

  25. Aug 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    the more we can learn to leverage natural opportunities for discipleship instead of creating/ maintaining discipleship programs, we are more likely to succeed in maturing the next generation.

    for instance, 90% of all people are going to get married before 60, so have an outstanding prep for marriage course that affords you opportunity to meet with and minister to each couple and individual in the process. We do this and it is incredible - e-mail me if you want details, we are happy to share

    missions is another great way to accomplish this, especially with the refreshed vigor among twenty-somethings for social justice and human rights.

    traditional discipleship tracks will likely fail with the next generation …so let’s try taking what they are giving us - their interests and passions, along with their intrinsic needs, and build maturing relationships through these existing vehicles.

  26. Jun 17, 2010 at 5:01 am

    [...] [Repost from July 29, 2008] [...]