The way in which we now do most of our evangelism is by “come and see”. Many of our people have been trained that if they can just convince their friends to come to their church, the pastor will do the heavy lifting of actually telling them about Jesus and by doing so, their friend will be saved. The onus is on the pastor, not the believer. As I stated in PART 1 of this series, House churches will begin to be more important, which means the typical role of Pastor will also change. They will still be the main teachers, preachers and leaders of the movement but the movement will be much more organic, and much more community based. This means that believers will have to start taking more ownership of evangelism. The idea of being a missionary wherever you are will spark a new excitement in our otherwise sleepy movement of believers. In many ways the church (mainly in the US) has become so lazy that many have forgotten the great depravity they have been saved from and so they neglect to live lives of freedom.
6. The Church movement will initially Shrink
With all the new challenges, all the ownership to live out the faith, the persecution and the loss of the “Big Show” and “national acceptance” many people who claimed Jesus as Lord will throw in the towel and prove themselves to have been Nominal Christians (as Tozer loved to call them). These are those who adorn the sanctuary with their bodies on Sundays, but have not allowed Jesus to do the deeper work within them. They have chosen to allow Jesus to save them from the fire of Hell but have given little else under his control. So, naturally the movement will initially shrink. Oddly enough though underground things will transpire and the church will see it’s biggest insurgence of both numbers and true believers. For whatever reason, when something is outlawed it becomes that much more desirable!
7. The Spirit of God will show up
Before I continue know that I don’t think the Spirit of God has left by any means. By this point, I simply mean, as Francis Chan wrote in his book Forgotten God that we have left the realm of dependency on the Spirit and have been leading on our own power in many respects. This just simply won’t do, we need His Spirit to guide, direct, heal, empower and convict. We will see more and more miraculous healings…again not as if we are not currently seeing them, I just foresee more of this as we again learn to lean and depend on the Spirit. Healing is just one aspect of the Spirit showing up. We will see a new boldness in the lives of believers, a new, fresh desire for the Presence of God and a new empowerment to be Jesus wherever we go for the sake of evangelism.
Here are some fresh insights/thoughts/ideas from my friend Erik:
1) The influence of 19th century Darbyism/dispensational millennialism will fade to a minority of churches.
The concept of the rapture, end times, and heaven as well as the second coming of Christ has been deeply influenced by the views of John Darby and things like the Scofield Bible. In the next 50 years, many churches and Christians will turn back to a theology of God’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Churches will continue to move toward an ethic of serving the “least of these” in the communities they find themselves in. From the pulpit, the focus will be less on getting to Heaven when we die and more on bringing heaven to earth by living out authentic Jesus communities. Preaching the gospel with our words AND works.
2) Pentecostalism will continue to grow worldwide and will be forced to jettison the health and wealth gospel.
Not all Pentecostals believe in a health and wealth gospel, but this unscriptural view will sour in the mouths of new Christians in the 3rd world and will force the movement to reject those who preach this theology.
3) There will be major denominational splits over homosexuality. Homosexual equal rights (including marriage) in America is quickly becoming the greatest civil rights issue since the 1950s and 60s. Churches and Christians will have to decide how to engage homosexual communities and those who are open and affirming and decide where to draw the lines when it comes to things like church membership, baptism, communion, and ordination. In 50 years I believe there will be 3-4 major denominations that at least allow for ordained openly gay/lesbian clergy (right now there is one I believe).
4) The majority of Christian denominations (in the USA) will allow for the ordination of women as pastors and teachers in their congregations. I see this being a lot less a divisive issue as #3.
5) There will be a greater movement to integrate the Great Commandment with the Great Commision when it comes to missions work. For many Christian organizations, the focus will shift from converting the world to sharing the gospel through caring for the needs of the needy worldwide. For instance, in the C&MA, CAMA Services will grow larger than the GCF and traditional church planting models.
6) Christianity will remain the dominant religion on the planet, but the competition will be stiffer. Between the continue emerging influence of Asia and the secularization of the First World, Christianity will have a lot of competition. But the Kingdom of God will advance and we will see a resurgence and new expressions of Christianity that we have yet to recognize.
What are YOUR thoughts?