I am not a prophet.
Please don’t stone me if I get one of these ten traits wrong.
And while there is a good bit of subjectivity in this article, I think I am basing my projections on clear and evident trends.
So, what if we could look into the future ten years from now, and see the characteristics of the healthiest churches in America? Would you be willing to make changes now? Take a look.
1. They have the same pastor they did ten years ago. Pastors, the greenest grass may be the church you serve right now. Church members, quit nitpicking and complaining to pastors so much that they can’t wait to leave.
2. The pastor, staff, and church members have a decade of calling to the local community. They are not just called to the church; they are called to the community the church is intended to serve. They would have loved and served the community for ten years.
3. The church will be as diverse as the community. Look at your demographics now and the projected demographics ten years from now. How diverse is your church?
4. The church will have responded to its international mission field in its own backyard for ten years. The world is coming to America. What is your church doing to reach different people groups in your community? Try sponsoring an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. Watch the world come to you.
5. The church will have had a consistent and strategic outward focus for a decade. The leadership of the church consistently and persistently leads the congregation in outwardly focused ministries and evangelism.
6. All new members the past ten years will have attended a new members’ class. They will thus not only have information about the church; they will have heard expectations of how they are to serve, minister, and give in the church.
7. The church will have seen the cultural changes of the decade as opportunities rather than threats. Rather than ranting every time culture takes a shift away from Christianity, these churches will have used the changes as opportunities to share the gospel and minister.
8. At least 80 percent of the worship attendance will have moved to a small group over the decade. For ten years, leadership in the church will have been highly intentional about moving people to small groups. As a result, assimilation will be at an all-time high.
9. At least 50 percent of the attendance will have invited at least four people to church each year. Over ten years, a church of 200 in attendance will thus have invited 4,000 people or families to church.
10. Every year for ten years these churches will have become more joyous and fun. Church bullies, curmudgeons, control freaks, and critics will not like these churches. The people will just be too happy for their tastes.
Ten years may seem like a long time to some. But it’s really the blink of an eye.
What will your church look like in ten years?
Let me hear from you.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on July 11, 2016. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.