The theme of this year’s Orange Conference is Every Generation Needs a New Revolution. A few definitions from Merriam-Webster of “revolution” include:
a sudden, radical, or complete change
activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation
a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something
a change of paradigm
Change is inevitable.
A revolution implies something bigger, faster, or more impactful. Let’s face it, churches have not been known for being at the forefront of change. There have been major revolutions in church history before, but not with every generation.
More like with every few hundred years, or less.
The challenge is every generation DOES need a new revolution. Certainly, today, where the rate of change is so much faster and the context of ministry is drastically different now than it was just 7 years ago.
If that’s the case, then how can our churches be prepared for the next decade where things will change even more?
I’m glad you asked.
Create a Learning Culture
At this point, I should give you a spoiler alert. I don’t think we can prepare our churches for the next decade by foreseeing what will happen and addressing those things before they come to pass. Instead, I think it’s about anticipating that change will come and preparing our churches for it with what we know and what we can control right now.
One thing we can control is our posture. As churches, we need to create a learning culture where we are always curious.
We ask questions.
We seek to understand.
We hear different perspectives.
We read about current trends.
We take the time to discuss the future.
Practically speaking, everyone on staff or in a key volunteer role in a church should be constantly learning. Whether it’s through reading books, listening to podcasts, attending conferences, having intentional conversations, or pursuing further formal education, we want to never stop learning and growing.
By doing that, we’ll be more equipped for the change the will inevitably come.
Listen to Younger Generations
Al Ries, author of Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It, says “The next generation product almost never comes from the previous generations.” If we want to be prepared for the next decade, we’re probably not going to do that by only listening to people who are our age or older.
We need to have conversations with younger generations in our churches and in our communities in order to know what will serve them best. The younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, are the ones most absent from Church. That makes this a difficult task, seeing how there aren’t as many of them in our churches to begin with.
But, what if engaging them in conversations is part of what would help them be more involved in our churches? What if allowing them to have significant voices in where the church is headed is precisely what may draw them and their friends to the church?
Focus on the Next Two Years
I’m going to get as practical as I can here because preparing our churches for the next decade will require action. I think the best way we can prepare our churches for the next decade is to focus on the next two years while creating a learning culture and listening to younger generations.
Change is happening so fast that it’s hard to predict what the landscape might be 4, 7, or 10 years. Conversely, it’s also not helpful to just look at the next 2 months. Two years is far out enough that we can make strategic plans and dream about the big things we want to accomplish. It’s also close enough that things won’t change so much to where our plans have to be scrapped because they are no longer relevant.
We can decide where we want our churches to be 2 years from now.
What will the church look like?
How many people will we be reaching?
How many leaders will be needed?
How many services and/or locations will be required?
How will we invite people who are not a part of any church?
How will we connect people to the church once they have attended?
How will we disciple people over a 2-year span?
How will we monitor and track progress?
Answering those questions can help us create a strategic plan for the next 2 years. If we work that plan faithfully while continuing to learn and listen to younger generations, I think we can prepare our church for the next decade.
Will we be prepared for everything?
We can, however, be ready to adapt as unforeseen things come up and, more than that, we can actively participate in a revolution to help reach future generations.
Orange Conference 2020
I’ll be at the Orange Conference in 2020 for two main reasons. One, because of the network of people and relationships I have formed there over the years are immeasurable in terms of how much they help me. Two, because Orange is one of the most innovative, forward-thinking organizations out there and I depend on them to help me prepare for the next decade.
I hope to see you there as well!