With one week left in this year, here are some trends to consider for 2018:
- Even more seminary training will be local-church based. Because accreditors and seminaries have made this approach credible, more churches have been moving in this direction. This trend is likely here to stay.
- More young pastors will tackle church revitalizations. Church planting will still be popular, but the interest in church revitalizations will grow. Many of these ministries will be in the South.
- Denominations will still matter, but networks and affinity groups will be primary sources of encouragement and strengthening for pastors. Some of these groups will likely even be internet-based, but they’ll meet specific needs for church leaders.
- Discipleship strategies will increase, but with little corresponding growth in evangelism. The interest in discipleship is a needed reaction against poor discipleship in the past, but it will still not address our poor evangelism.
- Fewer seminarians will have a priority interest in the pastorate. This trend reflects a general fear of leading a church without significant experience, in addition to a genuine desire to work alongside a team.
- Bad preaching will lead to church departures. My seminary professor told us, “A church will put up with bad preaching as long as you love them.” I’m not sure that’s the case anymore (if it ever were). It’s easy to find really good preaching elsewhere, including on the internet.
- Life-on-life, genuine community will ground people in a church. In my 40+ years as a Christian, I’ve never seen the interest in local church community, especially among young leaders. We’re even beginning to see seminary graduates who stay in the seminary city rather than start ministry because they love the church of which they’ve been a part.
- More churches will share their building with ethnic congregations. Some of this trend will come from a millennial desire to have diverse congregations, and some of it will come from recognizing the difficulty of thoroughly blending diverse cultural and language groups.
- Evangelical churches will give the Lord’s Supper more regular prominence. That trend has been happening among younger congregations, but it’s now spreading to more established churches as well.
- Prayer ministries will slowly grow. I’m beginning to see growing interest in prayer that undergirds our work, particularly as culture increasingly fights the church. The growth of prayer, though, will be slow.
What are your thoughts?