The Church of the Future – Part One
Much has been written regarding the Church of the future. One would hope that this Church is the one that Jesus is building (Matthew 16:18). That He would be the foundational Cornerstone as well as the Head of this Church (Ephesians 2:20; Colossians 1:18). And, that it will be designed and built by people who are guided and directed by the Holy Spirit.
The majority of churches being planted currently are what we refer to as “non-traditional” churches. This means that the way they express their corporate life is not the same as the more established and traditional type churches. Examples of the latter would be: Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Church of England (Anglican), Methodist, and others.
Within the non-traditional churches we see a wide variety of approaches to establishing churches and expressing the corporate life of the church once established. Within these non-traditional churches we see:
1> Relationship-centered churches
These churches are built on the notion that a church should exist for no other reason than to forge deeper human relationships. Churches of this variety begin strong and are valiant, but after the first few years they typically begin to run out of steam and disintegrate. The become a ‘country club’ for members and others who look, act, and talk like they do. The reason these churches will have a short lifespan is simply – they are built upon a foundation other than Jesus Christ and the mandate He gave to His Church – The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
2> Evangelism-centered house churches
In the New Testament the purpose of evangelism was to win the lost. As the numbers being born again grew they gathered together and formed house churches. The purpose of evangelism was to build the Church.
Evangelism-centered churches have reverse this order. Proponents of these kinds of churches exist in order to evangelize more effectively. Because of this, these churches will multiply as a strategy to gain more converts. But the concern is that often they will multiply far too rapidly. Because their emphasis is on evangelism, they will be slow or even negligent in developing a solid biblical and theological foundation. Because these churches will be built on a very thin theological and biblical foundation, most of them will disintegrate and burn out within several years.
3> Small-is-beautiful churches
Many believers from traditional churches will continue to give up on the format of the traditional church. So, they will move out and form neighbourhood house churches. However, in spite of having physically left the bigger, traditional church they still maintain the traditional style and structure of what they have left. It is familiar and they are comfortable with it. As a result, there is a hierarchical structure firmly in place. Eventually, aside from moving out of the building into the home there will be very little that will distinguish them from the garden-variety traditional church.
4> Biblical blueprint churches
These sorts of churches will be built on the idea that an ironclad blueprint can be found in and extracted from the New Testament and mechanically followed. Instead of allowing the functions, gifts, and ministries of the Church to emerge naturally and organically our of life, members will be put into offices immediately in an attempt to conform to a “biblical blueprint.” Most of these churches will devolve into elder-controlled churches. Their meetings will be stiff and perfunctory.