In which direction is the church moving?

So, in which direction is the church moving, or perhaps which are the most prominent winds in society which are going to move the church in a particular direction?  It is difficult to make predictions, but sometimes when one hears a consider thought it rings true.  Perhaps, something here might ring true with your experience and provide some guidance as to your ministry, the direction for your church, or simply give you hope.

I stumbled across and article entitled “Ten (Very Different) Church Trends for 2022” by Thom S. Ranier.  You can find the article here:
The article is worth a read, despite being over a year old, and you can click through and do that.  I am only going to highlight a few things which Thom has predicted and which I think are particularly interesting, and insightful.

Thom predicted that:

Worship attendance will average 80% of pre-COVID numbers. That has proved correct if perhaps a little optimistic.

Neighbourhood churches will become a movement. He defines these as congregations that are laser-focused on ministering to a specific geographical area.  He is writing in an American context, but I think this is a particularly interesting in the UK context.  Is this perhaps what we are seeing in the growing number of churches evolving into community hubs and community centres?  Does this mean that we will see a decline in global mission and in the desire to support mission in other parts of the Connexion.  I hope not, but do think it might be happening already.  With this he suggests will come more community focus than any period in the last 30 years. If this is indicative of a stronger, local incarnation of the gospel that is good news, but if it simply drawing our vision and not seeing mission value beyond what will help us grow and survive as an institution that is really bad news.  Time will tell.  This relates to another prediction of Thom’s that there will be a far greater emphasis on evangelism than in the recent past.  It is no secret how much the Methodist Church is putting into Evangelism and Growth, but again the value will be shown in whether this proves to be truly missional or about institutional survival.

Finally, for this post, Thom predicts that the micro church could become a movement.  (A micro church is defined as a congregation with 30 or fewer attendees). This is certainly true and an intentional move in some areas of the church, and one that was growing until COVID.  It also links back to our Wesleyan Revival Heritage of societies, class meetings and bands.  What is interesting is that there as so many churches in the UK which fit into this category (but are not branded micro-churches), and fail to recognise the positive aspects which they could embrace.  Of course, most newly established micro churches have little or no administrative obligations, and are even less likely to have building maintenance and assessment obligations.  So, to make the most of this opportunity and to really embrace the trend we will need a new structure or a new way of operating.

More on those new structures and ways of operating as well as related trends of ministry in the next bog post.

Photo by Daniel Gonzalez on Unsplash

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