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Do you ever think about the future and wonder what it will be like?  Part of having a marketing strategy is knowing where you want to be in the future, and that means asking yourself questions about what you will look like.  Do you ever think about the status of the church beyond today? This year?  In thinking about that, these are some questions that I have. . .

Can a church ever be too big?

What will the church look like in the years to come?

What will be the biggest change to the church of the future?

Will the church ever be truly united on this earth?

Will there be more Christians or less in the next five years?

What can we do to make sure we continue to grow?

 

Do you have any answers?  How about any questions?  Are we too scared of the future to think about it?

I just finished “not a fan” by Kyle Idleman.  It was a very good book and where it does present Christians with a lot to think about, it also gave me a lot to think about in terms of church marketing.

Idleman’s main message in this book is more of a question, “are you a follower of Jesus or a fan?”  He says, that the church can often times be at fault for creating more fans then followers.  We have tried to make Jesus more attractive to people, so we focus on belief without putting the needed emphasis on following because following is hard.

We need to be aware that church needs to be about action.  It is not just about the feeling but the action that comes from that feeling.  In churches it cannot all be about creating feelings or generating emotions.  You have to call people to action whether that action is death to self or walking out the door.

Churches cannot be so focused on growth and the numbers that all there is to show for it is lukewarm fans of Christ who take a seat when it’s time to follow.

I would strongly encourage this book, I would even challenge you to read it.  It will open your eyes and cause you to question yourself and your church.  Questions are not always bad, but you might not like the answers, but if you do not ask the questions then how will anyone grow?

Recently I read an article put out by the Barna Group (http://www.barna.org) titled “What People Experience in Churches.”  I enjoy reading what Barna puts out because it is entirely based on facts and statistics.  The statistics and conclusions in their article caused me to do some thinking.  Here is a link to the full article: http://www.barna.org/congregations-articles/556-what-people-experience-in-churches

One very surprising, yet very real statistic from this article stated that “most people cannot recall gaining any new spiritual insights the last time they attended church . . . even among those who attended church in the last week, half admitted they could not recall a significant insight they had gained.”  This is not something that I would usually think of as being a usual occurrence, until Sunday afternoon.  My husband and I were talking about church and it took us almost five minutes to remember what the sermon had even been about.  Has this ever happened to you?  Now, this does not speak to the quality of the sermon, but more that we had moved on and not ingrained it.  This personal realization really knocked me off guard.

In the article I found two graphs in particular very interesting and I could not stop talking about it.

Church Experiences, by Church Size

Size of the Church Attended

Under 100                  100-299                    300+

Feel part of a group that cares for each other

81%

76%

78%

Felt a real and personal connection with God

78%

68%

77%

Gained new spiritual insight or understanding

44%

34%

49%

Church puts a lot of emphasis on serving poor

39%

44%

57%

Attending church affected my life greatly

33%

24%

34%

 

With all the discussion regarding church size, this graph was very surprising to me.  It made sense to me that a church with a small congregation would feel more cared for.  I expected that.  I was, however, very surprised at the overall low numbers for a congregation size of 100-299 people.  Their numbers for connection with God and affect on their life are considerably lower than the other sizes.  And the positive feelings toward churches of 300+ surprised me.  Do any of these statistics cause you to ask questions or look at things differently?

Church Experiences, by Generation

Size of the Church Attended

18-27         28-46         47-65               66+

Feel part of a group that cares for each other

47%

71%

71%

70%

Felt a real and personal connection with God

56%

62%

70%

71%

Gained new spiritual insight or understanding

35%

37%

40%

43%

Church puts a lot of emphasis on serving poor

30%

41%

41%

43%

Attending church affected my life greatly

20%

23%

28%

33%

This graph was very troubling to me because 1) of the lowness of the percentages for the 18-27 year olds and 2) the troubling numbers are from my generation.  From this data it shows that 18-27 year olds feel less cared for, have felt a real and personal connection with God fewer than older generations, and are largely unaffected by church.  Is this because they are stuck in the middle of older adults and high schoolers?  Do we forget about them?  I am always shocked by churches that do not have a young adult/college ministry because it is obviously such an important thing.

I would encourage you to read the full article, find out what surprises you, and consider where you fit into these statistics.  The answers might surprise you.