The Future Church- "Top 10 Characteristics" / by Ryan Cole

From my perspective as a 26 year old pastor...Here's what I believe is going to be the pattern of the church in the years to come!

FYI- This is a continuation of another blog I wrote about Millennials and the church!

Click Here to read that blog first!

As a person who has a strong fascination with culture...i have placed my hand on the pulse of our current "western" culture and through prayer have come to terms with what the church will look like in the near future and how we can succeed in presenting the gospel to the next generation while maintaining the integrity of the scriptures! Here we go...TOP 10!

1. Technology will be embraced on a larger scale and the majority of Millennials will not attend a "Large Gathering" except for a 3-4 times per year at a maximum. By Large I mean more than 1200 people, and that will be the extreme high end anomalies. Some of you may consider 1200 large but remember that before this point mega churches were being built to hold at least 3-4 thousand people. Even at the larger end of the 1200 people mark, this will only be effective if the feeling of intimacy and community are the center of your focus. In terms of the most commonly effective congregation...I see it being around a 300-400 mark as the norm, yet still being considered a "mega church" because of technology. As the term "Mega Church" shifts, you will discover that your largest audience will be gathered through the use of technology, using platforms online. Millennials will still gather weekly in a "church" setting...it just may not be in as "large" of a setting. So shift your focus from numbers in the door...to the impact of discipleship!

2. On that note....Educational value in the church will become more important than entertainment value...so make sure that you actually have something to say. In saying this, we are still looking for the "excellence" value and the use of the creative arts! Even with great creativity, you better have some impact in your presentation in terms of educational, transformational, and empowering revelation.

3. Because of the focus on community that we will need to take, we will have to rely on partnerships for large local alliances and impact.

4. Millennials, unlike the former generations, have a great distrust with large institutions because we grew up watching the great scandals of corporations, banks, and churches. If we are going to be a part of a large ministry there better be integrity, transparency, authenticity, and an evident move of the supernatural power of God with demonstration of the Kingdom.

5. You will see Millennials embrace smaller house-like settings in the sense that they will be discipled through one-on-one mentorship and relationships more than they will be showing up to a classroom in a building. Give a Millennial the information through technology and give them activation and relationship in person! We crave mentorship but we also crave acceptance. We want to know that you are with us even when we fall and that you will lift us up with grace!

6. Okay here is where the prophetic word takes over... There will be a large diving line in the church....between those that have bent the church around the world's culture and those that have maintained the "oil" but have also embraced new methods and technology. In other words, there will become a very distinct difference in the church world. Denominational lines will be blurred and at the same time there will be 2 distinctively different groups of "Christian Movements" arise. Because of this, where we stand on theology will challenged and be One group will focus on Discipleship and Kingdom Theology along with a movement of the Holy Spirit and signs and wonders while the other will be built on the strength and power of man and the embracing of a "melting pot" of spiritual beliefs w/ very blurred lines in doctrine. The latter will put emphasis on individual spiritual discovery in the sense that everyone will be able to embrace a personal truth without solid lines of theology. Both of these sides to Christianity will succeed but the latter will be based on deception. It is also possible that the use of the word "Christian" may be rephrased or redefined because of this. We must as believers recognize which movement represents the actual Church as we mirror the results and effectiveness of the New Testament Church.

7. The next revival and expansion of the Kingdom will occur in the marketplace and in communities. The focus of the Church will shift toward the empowerment of individuals as carriers of the Kingdom of Heaven. You will see more salvation take place outside of the church walls in homes, communities, work fields, etc... We will reach out more for people to be saved where they are...and then become connected to the church building to be disciples.

8. Church Services will become driven by Prayer and Kingdom Teaching. There will be more cooperate prayer than ever before and this will birth revival in communities, homes, and businesses.

9. The Social System will be a great place of ministry. As the fabric of what a Biblical "Family Unit" is torn we must be here with the example of solid family structure and function. The individual Purpose of a Man and Woman will need to be clearly taught and defined as well as displayed through the church. We must be prepared for any and everything to come against us in our pursuit of reflecting Christ and His Church (Husband and Wife). As the transgender and homosexual culture has emerged and is playing a dominant role in the construct of the next generation...we have to be fully equipped with the answers they are looking for. Not religious paraphrasing but answers...through the word of God and be able to approach these issues with great compassion and understanding. Remember, that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). In saying that we must also have an unwavering stance on what God defines as a marriage and what is the most healthy family construct and we must be able to display it. We won't have a firm ground to stand on, if the divorce rate of Christians continue to rise. This next generation is looking for a Show and Tell...not just a Tell, so demonstrate the power that you talk about! This is another reason why ministries that place an emphasis on Mentoring (Fathering and Mothering) will likely succeed more than those that do not.

1 Corinthians 4:20 "For the kingdom of God consists of and is based not on talk but power."

10. Persecution will rise against those that stand on ideas such as purity (abstinence from sex before marriage), biblical marriage (between 1 man and 1 woman), the bible's view on cross dressing and the transgender lifestyle, and other topics that are diametrically opposed to cultural norms. The interesting thing is that the persecution will be subtle because it will be in the forms of governmental intrusion (which there are ways to get around this but that's for another blog). We as a church must depend on unity, more than ever before if we are going to succeed in our missions here in the United States. As we leverage our corporate influence and power as the church, we will be able to shift culture and impact the next generation effectively!

I will continue to write more of what the Lord shows me along the way...I am excited about the church! WE have never had more potential than we do right now and we must seize the moment!

-Ryan Cole