I am always a little skeptical when people start trying to predict the future. At best it is foolish and at worst manipulative. For example, I have been predicting that the Broncos will win the Super Bowl for the last 10 years. If you are a follower of football, you are well aware of my predicting ability. If you are not a follower of football, all you need to know is that I am 0 for 10. A couple of weeks ago I was part of a conversation about the future of the church. Somewhere in the middle of our discussion the following prediction was made – the day of churches running existing programs or starting new programs is over and the era of the movement has begun. Initially I blew this comment off, but in the weeks since this theme has continued to surface in other conversations.
Recognizing the dangers of predicting what the future holds, it is still interesting to think about where the church is heading. What does it mean to move from program based church to a more movement orientated church? Is this a good thing?
Programs can tend to be top down, control orientated and overly structured. At their worst programs are sterile inauthentic structures intended to bring people together in predictable ways.
As I have reflected on the idea of “movement,” images such as organic, shared leadership, bottom up, low structure, and highly flexible come to mind. These images have an inviting and inclusive quality to them.
I do not know if church and denominationally run programs are going to disappear in the next decade, but I do like the idea of moving from program to movement.