In fifty years, we will see a number of churches that do not own buildings and will have no plans to acquire a building. These "churches without walls" will probably have offices (usually rented) and storage areas. Some will choose to have their offices in malls or shopping centers with high foot traffic and adequate parking. They may even do some ministry there, but this will not be the real presence of the church in the community. It will be elsewhere.
Much of their communication with participants (the number of "members" will be limited, but that is a subject for another day) will be digital--e-mail, websites, or whatever follows our present day digital communication.
What are the forms in which the church will be physically manifested?
First, small groups will meet regularly, perhaps weekly, in homes, coffee shops, hospitality rooms in condo developments, etc. The primary focus of these groups will be fellowship and Christian formation.
Second, church participants will meet in certain locations to do ministry. These individuals make come from several small groups, but they will coordinate their responsibilities and assignments. The locations may be a Habitat construction site, a soup kitchen, a school for tutoring, etc.
Third, the church will hold regular gatherings for worship and fellowship in rented spaces--community centers, theaters, schools, or churches that do own buildings--on an as needed basis. They will be truly be a "nomadic" church.
What are the advantages of such an arrangment? First, the presence of the church will be manifested in the community through its fellowship, study, ministry, and worship.
Second, it will be good stewardship. The cost of operating and maintaining buildings will continue to increase and people will be more interested in seeing their money go into ministry than bricks and mortar.
Third, it will make the church more accessible to people. The church will go where the people are rather than asking the people to come to the church.
Will this be easy? No, but it will be effective in many communities.