Everyone wants to talk about what's wrong with the church today.
Me too. ;-P
But I will try to resist that temptation. Instead, I am going to talk about the church of tomorrow. About 3 months ago, I said that I was going to stop talking about the Familyhood Church. Some of you may even have noticed me actually stop. Others of you may not.
Andreia once described me as conflicted. :-)
Anyway, on to the subject. The church of tomorrow will finally have those flying cars.
OK, OK. Too many IBM commercials.
[Speaking of conflicted - now that I have finished the post I realize that I wrote about a completely different subject that I had in mind when I started. Maybe tomorrow. :-) ]
In the church of tomorrow, the pastorate is going to collapse under the strain of its own inefficiency.
After that happens, everything is going to go to pot. There are going to be a hundred different alternatives to the old pastorate, and some of them are going to fail spectacularly. A lot of them are going to look at lot like the current pastorate, but the differences are going to be crucial. I mean, it's not like 400 year old denominations are going to just fade away. Remember, though, that none of those denominations are more than 500 years old - except one.
In the end, one general pattern is going to succeed. The doctrinally agnostic fellowship group is going to rise. It is going to be characterized by high standards for entrance, and lots of opportunity to be busy for the Lord.
And then the Lord is going to return.
Let me focus in this post on the first line. I predict the pastorate will not survive recognizably into the 2020's.
This is not exactly what I want to happen, but I think it would make me happy enough. In my perfect world, the church would suddenly realize that the pastorate is anti-scriptural, and we would hurl it like a primed grenade. That's not going to happen. In my perfect world, the church would ignite with the idea that praise is something everyone should be leading at the same time, and worship leaders would become worship trainers, then step aside during the meeting. That ain't going to happen either.
The classic pastorate is going to fail under the strain, though. And we are going to have to find something else to do with our churches.
Because GenY and the Millenium Generation just don't put up with that nonsense. According to a seminar I attended the other day (I always provide the most reliable of sourcing for all my quotes, I know) GenY and MG want some things very badly.
1) Something important to do.
2) Someone to hold their hands.
3) The right to define their own schedule.
If you are older than 28, you have probably seen this happening in your workplace. The new kid joins up, and he wants to change everything and save the world and do it right now. And at the same time, he wants to have constant reassurance and affirmation that he is doing everything just right. And, BTW, he wants Thursdays off. He was raised to believe that he was the best soccer player ever - "See, I got this trophy!" All the other kids can play soccer "their" way, and "his way" is just as good. Sometimes the coach's "suggestions" work, but when they don't, he'll just keep doing it his way.
The pastorate works because everyone defers to the pastor. This makes it possible for him to steer the ship with a minimum of effort, leaving him time to do the 60 hours worth of other work the job requires every week. The elders may or may not defer to him, but they ain't called elders for nothing. They have a special dispensation to be crochety. Everyone else kowtows. Or at least they used to, before GenY started going to church.
Our churches are trying to attract GenY into their numbers. If they are not careful, they are going to harvest a bunch of highly intelligent, highly energetic people who have never heard the word "obey," and who need constant affirmation. They will be taking Thursdays off at work so they can spend some time with the pastor, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday too. They will want to be in charge of 3rd grade Sunday School, but they will want the pastor to go over every lesson.
And he going to find problems.
GenY is identified as the hardest but most rewarding group in the history of the American workplace to manage. This is because they are one of the best educated generations ever, and they are comfortable with modern information management techniques. I suspect, however, that they are one of the least educated groups ever theologically. They are being hit with everything from traditional to post-modern theological thought, and the contradictions have to be taking a heavy toll.
The trick in the workplace is to give GenY constant one-on-one attention, lots of very significant work, and full training. Busy work kills GenY because they don't trust in long-term transactions - if a job is going to pay, it has to pay now. They want to be doing something that matters now, and they want to be doing it when they are available to do it. Expect the same behavior in the church.
In the church, we will need to add Theology 101 to the mix.
The pastor cannot meet this need under the current system. The pastorate will crack. We will need a lot more people doing the pastor's job than there are now.
They say that 4% of our youth is saved. That is the most appallingly low number of Christians ever in our history. If the Lord is gracious, and if revival comes, the church is going to be inundated from that age group, and she is not going to know what to do.
Of course, I have some ideas. :-)