7 Predictions for the Church in 2021

It’s New Year’s Day, and Pam and I wish you a most happy New Year! With this change in the calendar, here are some of my predictions for the church in this new year:

  1. Simply moving into a new year won’t change the issues we’re facing. Still, COVID protocols are in place. Still, we have members who choose not to attend due to COVID. Still, we have people to evangelize, believers to disciple, and nations to reach—in many cases, with a smaller core of leaders than we had 10+ months ago. 
  2. We will need to stop talking about attendance and giving in terms of “pre-COVID” and “post-COVID” days. No longer can we cling to, “This is the way it used to be.” The way it used to be may have been only ten+ months ago, but we must start operating faithfully and hopefully within a new, still-changing landscape. 
  3. Some pastors who’ve been waiting out COVID before leaving their church will grow impatient with the wait—and move on. It made sense several months ago for a pastor to say, “I can’t leave now—not in the middle of a pandemic.” At the same time, though, few thought the situation would last as long as it has. No longer do these pastors feel the same responsibility to stay. 
  4. Pastors will continue to find their egos challenged by lower attendance and less giving. Many of us can speak of churches who’ve remained faithful through 2020, yet some estimates say that both attendance and giving will be down 20% from pre-pandemic numbers. How we pastors respond to those realities could reveal where our hearts really are. 
  5. Churches will have to consider again what “church membership” means. It’s one thing for a “fringe” member to choose not to attend worship services due to COVID; it’s another matter, though, when that member simply stops participating in anything the church does. Determining when to consider restorative church discipline while COVID hangs in the air will not be easy. 
  6. Local congregations will be pushed to decide how committed they are to ministering to the poor and disenfranchised. The fallout of COVID has provided opportunities for churches to minister to sick, hurting, lonely, financially challenged folks in our communities. Once COVID is no longer considered a threat, however, we’ll find out whether this kind of ministry is now in the church’s DNA. 
  7. Bivocational ministry (and co-vocational ministry, according to Thom Rainer) will be more accepted. In the past, many church leaders viewed bivocational ministry as only the last recourse when the church wasn’t willing to pay their pastor a livable wage; now, as churches must re-envision who they are, more will welcome pastors who feel called to bivocational work even if the church could afford a full-time leader. That’s a good thing, in my  opinion. 

What would you add to this list?  


  • charles kile says:

    Post COVID 19 our ministries will have less leaders.

    In my two networks there are 1028 contacts. 269 contacts are without church homes and 759 contacts presents 420 different churches in central North Carolina. I primarily do what churches can not do in my population. Since 1996 I have used Reference Forms to screen my leadership being a Community ministry. I must have geographically and denominational diverse leadership to survive.

    Other churches will screen your leadership for you as if they are going into local mission field.

    First part, the applicant promises to stay active and financially supports their home church.

    Second part there are 4 questions that pastors to answer. I will only address 3 since Y’all are Churches.

    Can the applicant fulfill a position in a community ministry?

    Have you discussed with the applicant that as long as they are members of our ministry, they are to be a regular attender of their home church?

    Does the current pastor understand “We respect an individuals membership in their church and doctrinal beliefs at all times?”

    Currently my Post COVID plans is to develop relationships with 12 churches that needs help in reaching a particular population. Please forgive me for those churches in Central North Carolina that I do not provide my meetup groups nor website, I prefer to visit churches before asking a church to join my network as a regular visitor and work on an association level.

    The applicant has gone through 2 months of training before receiving a reference form and nearly applicants are recruited to in leadership positions in their home church after their pastor reads the reference form.

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    I see two conflicting trends that have emerged during the last 10 months and will affect the church throughout 2021. One trend is to take a negative view of on-line services, small groups, and the like for a variety of reasons. Among these reasons is the belief that the online church is not genuinely the church. This belief is based on a particular interpretation of Scripture, which is open to question, especially in its understanding of the nature of the church, and appears to be motivated—at least in part—by the fear that people will stop attending in-person gatherings altogether A second reason is traditional orders of service do not transfer well to online. They are long and cumbersome. Gestures and ceremonial associated with these orders of service is exposed for what it is—unintelligible, obscure, and unessential. Rather than tailor the order of service and worship practices to the medium, some pastors are rejecting the medium altogether. A third reason is a church’s theology of the ordinances or sacraments does not permit their celebration online. The debate over whether the ordinances or sacraments can be celebrated online shows no sign of abating. The other trend is to take a positive view of the online church. Online services, small groups, and the like are seen as an adjunct to in-person ones but on par with them. The Body of Christ is seen as a spiritual entity whose members, while they may not be gathered in one place, are united to Christ and each other by the Holy Spirit. In-persons are a visible, outward sign of the Body of Christ but they are not the Body of Christ itself. The inward spiritual reality of the Body of Christ transcends physical space. Gathering online, while some elements of a physical gathering are missing, is an assembling of the church like gathering in person. What churches have learned from their online gatherings is being applied in their in-person gathering, for example, shorter services and shorter sermons. While celebrating the ordinances or sacraments online presents a number of challenges, these challenges can be overcome if one looks at the development and history of the ordinances or sacraments in the various church traditions. For example, the origins of the Baptist movement in the United Kingdom go back to a believer who baptized himself in a water tank in the attic of his house. Primitive Catholic doctrine teaches that anyone may baptize provide that they baptize with the same intention as a gathering of a local church.

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