4 Shifts Still to Come to the Church in 2021

revamping the church

The Changes on the Horizon

For many churches, she has become a social club rather than a healing center for the sick. The pandemic and the loss of non-traditional members have refocused the church on what matters most, serving others. For decades, the established church has had programs and positions centered in and around the church. With the pandemic, the established church was forced to review what is working, what needs revamping to fit the new criteria found in a post-pandemic world.

A series of coming shifts will enable the church to move to new ministry models to suit their local context. 

1. Shift to a Hybrid Model

When the pandemic hit full force, almost all churches were forced to close. As they reopened, the established church realized the value found in a hybrid ministry model through in-person, online church services, with small gatherings throughout the week. While this model is not unique for some churches, for many, this is a new way to host traditional church gatherings. Churches who were reluctant to embrace an online presence have seen new interest in-service attendance and giving opportunities by providing a convenient way for members and nonmembers alike to tune in and then give from anywhere. 

This hybrid model has encouraged discouraged pastors who miss traditional numbers on Sunday morning while instilling a new missional zeal in the established church. For the first time in decades, members are beginning to think about preparing for guests and reaching out to others who may not attend church weekly. Online services have provided a new gateway for evangelism, a safe, secure entrance point for non-Christians, and an opportunity for spiritual and relational growth through the local church. 

2. Shift to a Professional Media Model

With the shift to online discipleship and services, the church has realized that they have had to do a better job evaluating the quality of the services produced weekly. In less than a year, many pastors became overnight televangelists through streaming platforms that enabled churches to share their messages with the broader community. At first, the quality was not an issue, only the Word being spread through a new medium, but over time quality became a must. 

Many churches began to find cost-saving ways to share their messages through a podcast, streaming services, and recordings. This shift to a more professional model extended to revamping websites and other social media pages as the church seen these tools as the new front door and not just a foyer for guests to view services. With the shift, the lobby has moved from the inside of the church to an online presence where the community reviews start times, location address, what a person should wear, activities for children, and evaluating if the message shared in the pulpit is a message that connects with them. 

3. Shift to Smaller Gatherings

Build it bigger and better was a motto for many churches just a decade ago. Churches are reevaluating the relationship with larger spaces and how the church builds Christ-like disciples coming out of the pandemic. For many churches, it means going smaller in an intentional effort to connect relationally. The trend towards megachurch to microchurch has quickened due to the changing mood of churchgoers across North America. The shift toward smaller gathers of less than 20 people will offer closer discipleship, deeper spiritual connections, and relationships in a smaller community that allow connections. 

Other churches are rethinking Wednesday and Sunday night gatherings and what they will look like in the future. It will be focusing on missional aspects of meeting the needs of the neighborhood. Other small discipleship groups will still study books, host restaurant groups, or meet around a favorite sports activity. The shifts have one thing in common: to grow smaller to grow deeper in the faith. 

4. Shift to Outward-Focused Church 

When Jesus walked the earth, the church moved outside the temple’s walls as religion adapted into a relationship with the Father. The relational and needs-based (spiritual and physical) ministry retracted over time to the modern movement inside the wall’s outlook. The shift to an outward-focused church has been accelerated throughout the pandemic when the church building became off-limits for most churchgoers, as church facilities were replaced by facilitating smaller gatherings that were intentional. In the last eighteen months, the church has changed from an “attend and receive” to a “go and serve” church. 

As serving others becomes more of the priority and less about being served weekly, the church will begin to evaluate every program and project through the eyes of the unsaved and needs of the neighborhood around the church. 

There is a significant shift happening in the church today, where every church leader will have chosen to adapt to the changing tide of serving others or fighting to stay the same. In the next five years, churches all over North America will either shift or die to the demands of the seeking believers. Where will your church end up?

Read more from Desmond Barrett »

From Outreach Magazine  Joshua McNall: Perhaps