Habits Reconsidered Cause Congregations to Retool

Sometimes other people’s words are better than your own.  No surprise for me that Lovett Weems, Lewis Center for Church Leadership says it so clearly with data supporting all his thoughts.  So, I share his words with you:

The first decade of the twentieth first century was one of highs and lows for U.S. congregations. In the wake of the tragedy of 9/11, many more people went to church for the next five Sundays or so. Then the numbers turned downward. If 9/11 and its aftermath shaped much of the external environment in the early years of the decade, an economic recession shaped much of the latter years.

Most churches now recognize that congregational life and practices in the current century will need to be more than incremental improvements on what worked in the past. Major cultural and generational shifts are occurring. In this new context, church leaders are more confident in their knowledge of the dying edges that are passing away than they are of the living edges in which God is moving in this new day.

The common 21st century challenge for churches across all sizes, regions, and traditions is to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people. The people God has given us in the U.S. in the 21st century are more numerous, younger, and more diverse than in the past, while our churches overall continue to become smaller and older, as well as much less diverse than their communities.

Churches grow as a result of relationships. Today many of those relationships will not begin when new people arrive to visit a church but rather when churches connect with others in the community. Some refer to this as a move away from an “attractional” model to a more “missional” orientation. In any case, social and cultural forces are not factors in nudging people toward church today as in the past. Churches need to learn new practices to fit a new context.

Borrowing from another person’s words, Jesus said: “Let those with ears hear!

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for posting my article. I’m embarrassed to note that the reference in the first sentence should be to the “twenty-first century.” I was only off by 100 years!

    • In the grand scope of Christian History that is just one fifth of Tickle’s time periods….I made the change in my blog post. Thanks for your voice and I look forward to seeing the coming work.


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