Category Archives: Future trends

Missional Business Seminar, Johannesburg, 5 Nov 2016

This is your invitation to a vitally important seminar. Download a PDF brochure here, and share with your friends.

The world is changing. More Christians from developing nations are becoming interested in mission. We need more people on the mission field, coming from more diverse backgrounds and finding new methods of funding their work.

Come and join a seminar hosted by OMF International that will investigate some new models of missional business.

LEARN about…

  • NEW WAYS of doing and funding mission
  • INTEGRATING your entrepreneurial spirit and gifts with mission to the ends of the earth
  • GOD AT WORK in various parts of the world through Missional Business

Continue reading Missional Business Seminar, Johannesburg, 5 Nov 2016

Churches in 2024: How Technology Will Enhance Mission, by Captera

Last week, I spoke on the impact that smartphones will have on churches. You can listen to my session and download my slides here.

One of the resources I discovered while doing my preparation was the Captera church management blog. Captera provides software for a number of different markets, including churches. Their blog includes some excellent insights into how technology will enhance churches and mission in the future. One of the entries I enjoyed most was “Churches in 2024: How Technology Will Enhance Mission”. You can read this here, or an extended extract below:

Continue reading Churches in 2024: How Technology Will Enhance Mission, by Captera

Smartphones and the church of the future

Yesterday I spoke at the Gracepoint Fast Forward leaders conference. My topic was “Succeeding in a Changing World”, and I focused my attention on the impact of mobile smartphone technology on the way we might do church in the future.

You can listen to the 55 minute session on SoundCloud here or below, and follow along with the slides by downloading a PDF here.

For more information about our church, click here, and to get information about our Fast Forward conferences follow the Facebook page here.

Gen Y goes to church – or doesn’t

One of my favourite Christian bloggers, Rachel Held Evans, has recently turned her attention to some insights into the Millennial generation and their church attendance in the USA. She wrote a short blog on the topic for a CNN blog site, and sparked a very lively (if not useful) debate.

I was alerted to this issue a number of years ago by research from a variety of sources. The Barna Group and Walt Mueller’s Center for Parent/Youth Understanding have both been showing research about declining generational attendance at church for decades now. Mike Regele wrote about this in his book, “The Death of the Church” back in 1996 (buy on Amazon.com – still worth reading).

More recent research has emerged from Christian Smith’s National Study of Youth and Religion Project, and an excellent recent book is “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (buy on Amazon.com or Kindle @ Amazon.co.uk or Kalahari.com). Rachel also recently listed some of her research resources on this topic – see it here.

Anyway, after her experience on the CNN blog, Rachel revisited the topic with an excellent post entitled “Why Millennials Need the Church“.

She then provided links to a number of people who had written responses to her original article. If you’re interested in the issue, you will find them useful:

Churches definitely need to be thinking about this. Gen Y are seeking for something to believe in, but much of what the church dishes up for them today leaves them cold. What do you think are the best ways churches can connect with Millennials?

Focus on the Family gets it spectacularly wrong

Exactly four years ago today, on 22 October 2008, with just a few days to go in the US presidential election race between John McCain and Barack Obama, Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group in the USA, released what they called a “letter from 2012”. This was a letter written from the perspective of the future, intending to highlight what might happen if Barack Obama became president.

The letter listed 34 specific things that would change in America, as well as hinting at about 10 more. You can read it for yourself here (PDF file). It’s now 22 October 2012, the date that the letter was “written”. I wonder how they fared with their predictions?

Remember that this is a Christian organisation, representing Christians and claiming to represent God Himself (as an aside, isn’t it interesting that every single candidate for the US presidency that said God told them to run for high office has failed in the attempt this year? Is that God’s fault, I wonder?). The reason I say this is that if they have done a very bad job of predicting the future, then this will show up Christians – and God – in a bad light. It sets us all up for ridicule, and gives an unbelieving world just one more reason to dismiss us.

Let’s see how they did.

Continue reading Focus on the Family gets it spectacularly wrong

ReKnew – a new blog for those on the kingdom journey

I have known about Greg Boyd for some time, and am thrilled to have found his latest project. It’s a ministry and blog called ReKnew. Greg is a great thinker and advocate for a new kind of missional Christianity.

The welcome note on the blog is inspiring:

When most people think of “Christianity,” they think of the religion of “Christendom” that began in the fourth century when an Emperor named Constantine allegedly converted to the faith and then granted Christians a lot of political power. This religion has been the dominant face of Christianity for the last fifteen hundred years. The foundation of this religion is a picture of a Caesar-looking god who rules the world by brute power, and a corresponding concept of his kingdom as “the Church triumphant” – a conquering army that aspires to rule the world by acquiring political power.

This once mighty religion is in the process of dying. In fact, it’s been decomposing in Europe — where it once reigned supreme — for almost a hundred years. And while the “Christendom” mindset continues to have loud and passionate advocates in its last holdout, America, it has turned the corner in this land as well. All the clamoring of those who are today fighting to “take America back for God” (“back” to when?), and who continue to espouse a Caesar-looking, all-controlling God, represent that last roar of a dying lion.

While many grieve the demise of the Christendom religion, we at ReKnew celebrate it! For it’s our conviction that this religion has often had little to do with the true movement that Jesus came to unleash into the world—the movement he referred to as “the kingdom (or reign) of God.” In fact, we believe this civil religion has often been one of the greatest obstacles to the advance of the true kingdom. Because of how dominant Christendom has been throughout history, many have been unable to see through the dark cloud of this religion’s controlling God and conquering kingdom and behold the loving God and servant kingdom Jesus revealed.

The Good News is that this dark cloud is fading and we are beginning to see the light of a new day! And as the darkness fades, we are seeing people around the globe catching this vision of a God who looks like Jesus, and of a kingdom that looks like Jesus—humbly serving the poor and the lost, and sacrificing himself out of love for the forgiveness of his enemies.

Out of the rubble of this crumbling religion we are seeing a new kind of disciple rising up, fearlessly calling into question previous certainties; boldly rethinking what it means to believe in God and the Bible; bravely reimagining what it means to “do church” and advance the kingdom. More and more, we are seeing people abandon the security of their civil religion to become part of a beautiful revolution.

This has been my own personal journey, and I’m sure it has been for many of you as well. And this is why we’re here.

ReKnew is here to stand at the forefront of this exciting new thing that God is doing in the world. Will you join us? We want to do all we can do to help mobilize and spread this rising movement of kingdom people who are rethinking what it means to be a “Christian,” what it means to have “faith,” and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We want to join others in imaginatively exploring the shape that post-Christendom discipleship and the post-Christendom Church might take. And we want to join others in boldly rethinking everything Christians have always assumed they already knew.

To recover the self-sacrificial revelation of God in Christ, and to advance the servant kingdom he inaugurated, it is time for us all to take a fresh look at everything.

It’s time to ReKnew our hearts and minds before God.

Indeed.

19 July update: The ReKnew Manifesto has just been uploaded. It’s a great read.

Study: Why Young Christians Leave the Church

One of the biggest ‘elephants in the room’ for evangelical Christians is why so many of their young people leave the church in their late twenties. There’s no denying this happens. There are too many “used to evangelical Christians” running around. Something must be wrong.

Some people blame the way youth ministry is run. For example, see this hour long documentary produced by a young churchgoer, “Divided“. They have a point, but I don’t buy into their analysis completely.

A new book by David Kinnaman, Barna Group president, provides some more detail. “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church” is an excellent read. The Christian Post reviewed it and provides a summary of the findings (read it here, or a summary below).

This is a problem I have been passionate about for nearly three decades. I continue to be dismayed at how few churches are trying new things in an attempt to reverse nearly a half century of losing young people. This book from Barna provides some clues. What is your church going to do about it?

Study: Why Young Christians Leave the Church

By Jeff Schapiro | Christian Post Reporter, Sep 2011

Nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15, but why? A new research study released by the Barna Group points to six different reasons as to why young people aren’t staying in their pews.

Continue reading Study: Why Young Christians Leave the Church

Christianity as Country Club – by Scot McKinight

Author and commentator, Scot McKnight, recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post. I think he is spot on. You can read the original here, or an extract below:

Christianity as Country Club

by Scot McKnight, Huffington Post, 6 Sep 2011

Christianity sometimes presents itself as a country club. It presents itself this way even when it doesn’t want to, and sometimes it doesn’t even know it. I grew up loving to play golf but I played on the public course. I had friends who played at the local country club. When I visited the country club I felt like a visitor even though the members were wonderfully hospitable. Members felt like members and visitors felt like visitors, and knowing that you could “visit” only by invitation made the difference clear.

Many experience the church this way. Members know they belong, and visitors know they don’t. Well, after all, we might reason, the Christian faith is a religion of salvation, and Stephen Prothero’s recent book, “God is Not One,” depicted Christianity as a faith concerned with the “way of salvation.” And if you are saved, you are a member; if you are not saved, you are not. You might visit, but until you get saved you will know you are not in the club.

Continue reading Christianity as Country Club – by Scot McKinight

A deeper consciousness: What Knut’s death might teach us about the life choices facing us soon

Just a few days ago, one of the world’s most famous animals died. Knut was a polar bear who was born in captivity at the Berlin Zoological Garden. Rejected by his mother at birth, he was raised by zookeepers. He became a celebrity, even making it onto the cover of Vanity Fair magazine (twice, by the way – also sharing the cover with Leonardo di Caprio).

On 19 March, Knut collapsed and died in his enclosure. He was four years old. He had a seizure due to encephalitis, a swelling of the brain triggered by an infection, and collapsed into his pool where he drowned.

This story got me thinking. My understanding is that many animals exhibit a sixth sense when it comes to health and nature. They seem to be able to sense, anticipate, connect and communicate things that go beyond the ‘normal’. Knut’s mother strangely rejected both him and his brother who was born on the same day. Knut’s brother died of an infection when he was only four days old.

Could it be that Knut’s mother somehow knew that her two cubs were not “viable”? My understanding is that this may very well have been the case. In the animal world, it makes sense to abandon animals if they are not able to contribute. It takes up too many valuable resources to care for animals that will just die anyway.

I don’t know if Knut’s mother knew this. But it does provide an interesting starting point for discussions we’re going to have to have in the next decade or so.

As we continue to increase life expectancy, and as our medical and technical knowledge and expertise improves to the point where we can prolong our lives and fight off disease, we may very well reach the point of having to decide which lives are worth saving and which not. These decisions may very well relate to how we value people and their ability to contribute to society. Of course, in reality, this is happening already. Poor people have very few choices when it comes to health. Rich people can spend their wealth on prolonging their lives.

The difficulty will start in countries that have social medicine and limited budgets. At what point do we decide who can be treated (saved) and who has a disease that does not deserve treatment? When it’s public money being spent, how do we decide between one person and another? As we live ever longer, these choices will become starker.

Maybe animals like Knut’s mother do have the ability to work out quickly which of their fellows are worth saving and which not. Do we? And even if we did, should we not differentiate ourselves from the animals in some way – specifically by caring for the weak and outcast of society?

But how do we make these decisions? I think this may be one of the defining moral issues of my generation.

Is Evangelical Christianity Having a Great Gay Awakening?

A recent article in the Huffington Post has caused a bit of a stir amongst conservative evangelicals. It simply aimed to point out an objective fact: that more and more Christians are questioning the church’s traditional response to homosexuality. For some, this is another sign of the crumbling of the orthodoxy of Christianity. For others, it is a sign of hope that Christianity can continue to escape its prejudices and past (they cite examples of how the church treated non-whites, women, slaves and others).

Whatever your view on the church’s current response to homosexuality, this article is worth reading and reflecting on. You can read it at The Huffington Post, or an extract below:

Is Evangelical Christianity Having a Great Gay Awakening?

by Cathleen Falsani, Huffington Post, 13 Jan 2011

Some of my dearest friends are gay.

Most of my dearest friends are Christians.

And more than a few of my dearest friends are gay Christians.

As an evangelical, that last part is not something that, traditionally and culturally, I’m supposed to say out loud. For most of my life, I’ve been taught that it’s impossible to be both openly gay and authentically Christian.

Continue reading Is Evangelical Christianity Having a Great Gay Awakening?