Juggling Expectations: Generations, Migration, Culture

To lead a church in the western world can be a daunting task. We face enormous pressure as we head into this new decade. In this article, I’d like to state the obvious and then offer a personal perspective.

Here is the obvious. Church leaders are juggling different realities all at once. Generations, Migration, and Culture among other things.

Generations: most churches are made up of six different generations – builders, boomers, generation x, millennials, generation z, generation alpha.

Migration: most churches are growing more and more multicultural because migration is normative. In urban and suburban areas, the ethnic makeup of the church is radically different than five years ago.

Culture: We live in antagonistic post-Christian pluralistic culture. A culture with a variety of perspectives and ideas about origin, morality, purpose, and meaning. A Christian culture that is also divided from different perspectives.

Take these three realities, put them into a blender, and you get a picture of any local church. No wonder there is a growing group of leaders bowing out and churches closing at an ever-increasing rate.

Yet, I believe that there is an opportunity for the church like never before. Here is what we have before us:

Reformation – The opportunity to simplify and get back to what it really means to be the church – to redefine and revision buildings, services, the divide between clergy and laity leadership structures, unfruitful programs, and theological pet projects.

Renewal – The opportunity for followers to seek after God in a new authentic real way for him to shape them individually. Chaos draws us closer to the divine and reconnects us to the sources we have forgotten in our pursuit to build our kingdom.

Relationship – The opportunity to look past non-essentials, human preferences, and traditions to thriving connections in shared community. The opportunity for teams, shared vision, and openness. The opportunity to facilitate diversity rather than a uniform corporate-driven cult that reflects the preferences of the leader and creates walls for who is acceptable and who is not.

Yes, there will be the temptation to do it the way we’ve been doing it for the last ten, twenty, or sixty years. Those who will thrive will be leaders who can walk with humility, can navigate the complexity of generations and culture, and will be open to the new wave of a much older way.

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