The revolution we have been talking about will permanently alter the contours of the Body of Christ wherever and whenever it is seriously embraced. Of course, when a massive number of its constituency is transformed, the body itself is reshaped, by definition. But how the community sees itself and how it performs its functions as a community, will change.
New leaders will gain recognition and authority among believers. Their role will not be building new institutions to replace the old. Rather, it will be providing guidance in the construction of new hearts and minds that produce a thriving Church community. Weaving together the spectrum of ideas, talents, and resources of believers into a richer ministry tapestry will be their challenge. Power, authority, and resources will be defined, awarded, recognized, and utilized in different ways as the move of the Spirit matures.
The systems and structures that fostered the old Church will give way to new realities in the revolution. New ministry organizations will emerge. Different educational methods and training systems will prosper. Technology will become more important in the networking and restructuring of the Church in its mission.
Whereas “Christian community” has generally been limited to the relationships facilitated within a congregation, the revolution is bursting open the walls of the worldwide Church to birth a truly international network of relationships. The synergies resulting from this expanded horizon will be impossible to quantify – or contain.
Christians’ broader view of the Church and of their own responsibilities will also bring forth a renaissance in global missions.
There will also be a major impact on the local church….
Existing churches have a historic decision to make: to ignore the revolution and new move of the Spirit and continue business as usual, to invest energy in fighting the revolution as an unbiblical advance, or to look for ways of retaining their identity while cooperating with the revolution as a mark of unity and genuine ministry. Current research suggests that the latter approach of embracing change and the revolution will be the least common.
For the local churches whose leaders choose either to ignore or fight the revolution, the consequences are predictable. A percentage of them will be seriously impaired by the exodus of individuals – even though it may be just a few people leaving an already tiny congregation. Other churches will continue as if nothing new were happening in the faith world. However, every church, regardless of its public response to the move of the Spirit, will feel increasing internal and external pressure to get more serious about ministry and to lock into a vision from God for the congregation’s existence.
We will see a reduction in the number of churches as presently configured (congregational-formatted ministries). Church service attendance will decline as Christians devote their time to a wider array of spiritual events. Donations to churches will drop because millions of believers will invest their money in other ministry ventures. Churches’ already limited cultural influence will diminish even further at the same time that Christians will exert greater influence through more disparate mechanisms. Fewer church programs will be sustained in favour of more communal experiences among Christians.
A declining number of professional clergy will receive a livable salary from their churches. Denominations will go through cutbacks and executives will be relieved of their duties as their boards attempt to understand and halt the hemorrhaging.
To some, this will sound like the Great Fall of the Church. To revolutionaries, it will be the Great Reawakening of the Church. New scenarios do not mean mayhem and dissipation, In this case, I believe they represent a new day in which the Church can truly be the Church – different from what we know today, but more responsive to and reflective of God.