Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Will the Church Look Like in Fifty Years?--Part One

Someone asked me today, "What do you think the church will look like in 50 years?" Well, I love science fiction and I love the church. Maybe I can bring the two together and do a little scenario thinking over the next few days.

Although I embrace the concept that the church is the people and not the building, we still tend to think of buildings when we think of churches. So let me say a word first about buildings. Most churches in existence 50 years will still have buildings, even though they will be expensive to maintain and many civil authorities will resent the churches for having them and not paying taxes! (This will be challenged increasingly in the next few years, but I believe that church and state separation will prevail although some churches will pay a services fee just to get the local government off their backs.) In some settings, the buildings will be seen as an asset to the community and local governments will make efforts to encourage their upkeep and viability.

These buildings will be extremely multipurpose. Worship areas will be used at least twice on Sunday mornings. Most will be designed to be used for other purposes during the week as well--fellowship, recreation, etc. Some will be designed so that they can be used by the community for concerts and theatrical productions. Even so, there will be more art and imagery than we currently see in most Baptist churches.

Other parts of the church building will be used seven days a week for childcare, community ministries, adult Christian formation, and seminary education. There will be plenty of technology incorporated into the building. There may even be a bookstore on the premises.

If churches with buildings are going to survive, they must increasingly perceive their facilities as a tool for ministry. This will be hard for some members to accept, but it will necessary for churches to move from maintenance to ministry to make a difference in their communities.


Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

I agree with you about the church building becoming multi-functional, and I lament the silence in the halls during the week. THe church isn't the center of the community like it used to be, so we must find ways to be resourceful with what we have. You mentioned some churches renting out space for parties, weddings, etc. Hope that's not all we're good for, but it might come to that. In some ways, I can see the value of not having a building to maintain and using resources in other ways.

In 50 years, I hope I'll be permanently retired and you and I can talk about things in heaven.

Ircel said...

Stay tuned. Next time I will talk about churches without buildings!