I’ve been studying and watching churches for almost two decades now. As I spend time with church leaders, here are several trends I see continuing or emerging in 2016:
- Seminary training more local church-based. The growth of online education has made it possible to center much more theological training in the local church at the feet of gifted pastors.
- Increasing numbers of multi-ethnic congregations. These churches may not reach large percentages of ethnic groups, but young leaders are committed to growing congregations that look like their community.
- Growing numbers of successful church revitalizations. Some of these will be the fruit of temporary church mergers that launch an autonomous revived church. Others will be the product of leaders who are simply called to revitalization efforts.
- More full-time internships and associate pastorates. Not only are young leaders crying out for these opportunities prior to their becoming senior pastors, but the growing attention to a plurality of elders leadership is also propagating this shift.
- Emerging acceptance of bivocational church leadership. I’ve written elsewhere about my beliefs about bivocational work. Perhaps I’m biased, but I’m beginning to see this type of role not only accepted, but also embraced.
- Continued ministry falls due to pornography. Seldom does a week go by now without my hearing about someone losing this battle. I see no decline in its influence, despite the number of people trying to address the issue today.
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice-president of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as professor of Evangelism and Missions.