For Gail and me, here’s our sobering reality:
By 2030 the Christian landscape in the United States will be mostly cleared.
- Historic denominations will be a whisper of what they once were…by 2030.
- Congregations gone. Many more will be simply shadows of what they once were…by 2030.
- The Christian “footprint” of the people of God will be minimal…by 2030.
Will there be congregations that defy that reality? Of course!
But, by and large, by 2030 there won’t be much left of what we’ve known.
Ask any conscientious congregational leader…they may not have named it, but they feel the burden. Add the congregation’s curious questions of why…
- a bit more work…
- a bit more programming…
- a bit better preaching…
…couldn’t take us back to the heights of yesteryear.
- Look in any major metropolitan area in the U.S. Churches are almost all gone in these hard soils. (And the pastor-champions that are plowing oftentimes feel undervalued by the rest of the church.)
- Count the under 50 crowd in your own congregation this Sunday.
Exponentially accelerate and you arrive at a “not much left” 2030 landscape.
“We are one of only two churches left in our denomination in the entire city. The rest have closed.” …PLI Leadership Essentials Participant
You’re welcome to disagree with us and/or remind us in 2030 that it wasn’t so.
But, if we’re correct—or better—if you think we might be correct…
–What if we name the harsh reality of losing what we’ve loved and we start to imagine what God might be planning to do next in the U.S.?
–What if we begin to pray for the mysterious Spirit of God to blow and create and empower and guide us as the birth parents of what comes next?
–What if our current vantage point looks more like the children of Israel BEFORE the Promised Land of milk and honey?
- Jericho walls.
- Ominous obstacles.
All too big for the God who…
- Brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm.
- Parted the Red Sea.
- Provided in the wilderness.
Here’s what Gail and I would like to propose to you: Next week’s blog will be one last invitation to get ready and then we’ll go into six or seven weeks of sharing a picture of what a vibrant future church might look like in 2030.
Again, you’re welcome to disagree.
So now, we’d like to ask you to take a risk, before we start.
We’d like you to enroll your leaders/board/staff in the weekly PLI ENews and together react to the weekly contribution. Tell your gang that you don’t know if you’ll like what we write either. But, tell them that the challenge in front of us is more difficult than we’ve imagined, and our congregation is not going to arrive at a better future unless we discover together and lead together. (This is a leadership challenge of immense proportion!) Tell them we’ll be free to…
- Be moved to pray
- Form a conviction of our reality
- Commit to a brighter future
…but, together, we’ll get ready to not sit helplessly on our hands as victims.
One thing has become incredibly clear for us at PLI. When we look to the future…
The mission opportunity is not measured by the numbers needing to be reached. The mission opportunity going forward is measured by the number of baptized people of God discipled and trained to lead into the mission.
Exactly opposite of what we’ve been conditioned to think!
What brought us here in the decades upon decades when the culture valued going to church as a good thing isn’t going to take us forward in a culture that’s mostly apathetic or hostile toward the church
So, sign up the leaders you want in this conversation. (You’ll need them wrestling with you if you want your congregation to chart a different future.)
And, thanks for leading! We care deeply about you as a leader!