What is the Church in 2023?
What's up guys? It's Bobby King, and today I wanted to talk about what the church will look like in 2023. This is going to have a lot of my personal opinions, so if you want to take them as fact, great, but don't hold them against me. I really wanted to talk about what the church is going to look like in 2023.
Google defines a church as a building used for public Christian worship. Already we are recognizing the first discrepancy of what I believe is the church. The church is not a building, it's a people. It’s people gathered together, like-minded believers, gathering together, worshiping, glorifying God, pursuing his people in obedience through discipleship, and through daily active reading of the scriptures. The Church should be pouring into their communities, caring about the widows and orphans, and doing everything they can to make an impact in their city, in their community, and their neighborhoods, where if they were missing, people would be asking about where the church was.
What the world defines as I inherently disagree with. It's not four walls with a steeple on top, a sign that has the word church outside of it, or has a cross engraving on the concrete of the sidewalk. When I read the scriptures and I see what God is telling us in his love letter to us, that’s not what the church is supposed to be.
In Acts, what they were doing was caring for each other. They were all meeting together, gathering together in smaller groups and larger groups for corporate gatherings. When people had needs, they were providing for each other's needs. When someone was going through something, they would all help and chip in. That is more definition of what church is, and it is what I see looking into churches all across the country. I try to stay pretty active in all the new movements but what I'm seeing is this move to early first century church. You see this model with Francis Chan house churches or those different kinds of churches.
These churches are at the food bank every weekend, or they are making the decision to care for the orphans in their area. An example of a bigger church, David Platt's Church, at one point had zero orphans in their community. That's absolutely insane. It's because their church made it such an important priority for them. That's what I personally believe is the church.
Looking forward, I'm seeing a move toward the first century church, and I think it's because we as Christians have recognized we've gotten really good and used to programs. Hey, make sure you come to this event or this fall festival. We have put programs over our purpose. Essentially, that's what the church as a whole has done. We have prioritized doing programs and doing them well over purpose. Sure, that may convert into a follower of Jesus. That sometimes happens, but it's not necessarily like X equals this. It's a mindset shift that we need to have, which is putting our purpose first and forward. That can be done by doing what we see in acts. If someone goes through the book of Acts and goes through all of the early aspects of it and how the church is built, how it's developed, and how it spreads, you have a great blueprint of starting a church in 2023 or revitalizing your church in 2023.
Another thing that I wanted to talk about with the church moving forward in 2023 is, I personally have started a conversation, that is a podcast called Church Conversations. The main reason I wanted to do this was because people define church so differently. For me, it's what I mentioned earlier, it's a body of believers gathering together to glorify God and pursue people. For somebody else, it’s a building. The conversation about what it is, where it's honestly failing, and I know that's a negative term, but there's areas of the church that can be greatly improved. Then talking about what the church is doing well.
I wanted to mention the podcast a little bit, because that's exactly what we're doing, talking about people in church, not in church Christians, non-Christians, different religions, all of those different things. I'm inviting them on this podcast to have an open conversation and there's zero judgment if they're not a Christian.
My goal in that conversation is not to evangelize and tell them how they're wrong. My job and goal is to show us in the church world, what other people are thinking about church when we ask them, where is it doing good? Where is it doing bad? That is the main reason why I wanted to have that conversation and for y'all to get an insider's look into what I'm seeing in the community.
In 2023, I think you're going to see more small groups continuing to gather. I think that you're gonna see a pivot away from Sunday school groups more than you already have not because Sunday school is bad.The resources of being onsite and in person is becoming more and more difficult. You're seeing churches really moving towards no Sunday school, no bible study, no gathering on Sunday morning outside of worship and a sermon, because you're able to have more of those, you're able to have multi-services and things of that nature as a podcast. This idea is revolutionary to me. I think that this could drastically change and impact hundreds, if not thousands upon 10 thousands of people on a weekly basis. Some of your best teachers are not on the stage on a Sunday morning. There have been Bible study leaders and Sunday school teachers, they normally lead a specific study or course. Someone may have done their entire life's work and study in Revelation, so they've been teaching a revelation course and study for the last 20 years. That person needs to be on a podcast, be on an avenue outside of having the 10 people in their classroom on a Sunday morning.
The idea with the podcast comes in because you're able to reach a larger audience. If you're doing a podcast for a Sunday school class, you're still getting the same teaching, you're still getting the same education, but it now has the organic ability to reach thousands upon thousands of people instead of the 10 that you originally had.
Another aspect with this is you now open up your church to be able to experience multiple forms of learning and education. If someone's always wanted to be a part of somebody else's Sunday school class, but they're leading a Sunday school class themselves, this now gives them the opportunity to learn and grow in this other area. This idea is honestly one of the best ones that I have heard in a long time on how to revitalize a church's structure on a Sunday morning.
Another thing I am looking forward to seeing here in 2023 is more digital and online community
rising up and developing big churches out there. They've been doing it for a while. They've created these amazing opportunities for people to engage and connect digitally so people are able to react, have conversations, and share deep things with their community all in an online setting. This takes it out of just a Sunday morning environment.
The last thing I wanted to talk about was I feel that we have developed some spheres of influence here in the church. You've heard 'em out there about business and media and all of those different other things, but I think in the church we have a unique set of spheres that every person in our congregation would fall into after they've been onboarded, quote unquote, from a new member or anything like that. You will eventually fall into one of these eight spheres of influence:
Obviously this one applies to us. It's the one that we use the most cuz that's how we started our company, helping churches in the media realm. But graphics, web, photo, video, those areas, that is a sphere of influence that churches can make an impact on.
Obviously we know churches have youth ministries. Normally, it's the second largest funded thing in a church outside of operations and worship. In the kingdom, we're gaining brothers and sisters if a youth ministry is functioning properly. it's such an important area of influence.
3. Children’s ministry
We know based off stats that people return to church when they start having kids. They want their kids raised up in a healthy and safe environment. One of those is the church. It's one of the safest and healthiest places to have your kids learn and grow and be a part of different activities. Church is an amazing environment for that. So I'm now in that stage of life where I have two littles and so people that were in my high school and sim in my same grade that haven't been to church, Since youth group are now coming back, because they're bringing their kids, they know that it's an important value that they need to return to church.
4. College and Young Adults
So this 18 to almost 35 year old range is huge because this is your main missions deployment age group. These are people that either aren't married yet or still young enough to be able to do all the things. Essentially, these people are the ones that are your heavy volunteers. They're also the people that are going across countries on mission trips. Or even serving as missionaries overseas.I hate the phrase that millennials and Gen Z are leaving the church. That's not a true statement. I don't care what stat you pull up. I know that it's not true because it's a lot easier to count how many people leave your church in that age group than it is to count how many that come in. What's happening is young people are leaving a big megachurch, they're not leaving Christianity, they're then going to another church. When all of those numbers are added up together, it's not like the 15 local churches around that megachurch are saying. I gained 10 millennials, I gained eight Gen Z, and they add it all up. Of course, there are some people that are leaving the church in that age group, but it's not in the droves that the church has been trying to say.
These are your teachers. These are your people that should be discipling these young adults. Discipleship has been lost. Millennials have gotten categorized as a fatherless type of generation in reality. We know that that's also an aspect that's happened in discipleship. Gen Xers really weren't discipled whenever the world lost the mindset of apprenticeship and internship.
I think that this is a huge aspect for a bunch of different churches. Worship can be expressed in so many different ways, but it's a sphere of influence because worship is normally an open door for people to come to your church if you have good worship and normally results in the fact that you're going to be having a lot of new time guests because people want to see it, not necessarily the reason and heartbeat of why a church does worship, but it's a great door to be able to have people coming in and out of your church on a Sunday morning.
Obviously this is what we are called to do as Christians. Essentially it's not, if you want to go and do this, no, therefore go as you are already going and go spread the gospel to the nations. Missions are huge. We are continuing to see more missionaries and more people impacted throughout the world. One of my closest friends' parents just recently finished a translation of the Bible in Papua New Guinea. They've been working on it for the last 17 years and a people group hasbeen able to experience and read the gospel for the first time in their native tongue and in their native language. We know that the Lord isn't going to be coming back until everybody's at least had a chance to hear. Missions is huge.
8. Devotional and Bible study
This one is solely reliant on you as an individual. We cannot expect the church or other adult teachers to feed us. We need to feed ourselves. You need to find people that you relate with. You need to find groups of people that you want to grow together with, like-minded people serving the same kind of thing. If you are all about missions, go find other people that love missions. If you are all about youth, go plug into a youth ministry. You are trying to develop and have conversations and have skills around what God is calling you to, and I believe that God has a calling on your life and whatever that is and whatever that looks like, may have not have revealed it to you yet, but I believe that you do have a calling.
Whatever your calling is, learn more about it and become an expert in that area and in that thing that God has called you to do. You can do a whole different amount of things. But we believe, essentially after somebody is a new believer comes into the church, they get plugged into one of those eight spheres. And you need to be finding examples and being plugged in to those different spheres across your church body.
Church in 2023. I'm scared. I'm also encouraged. I believe that we are in a better place, not because we're actually doing better as a church, but because I know that the gates of hell will never prevail over the church. I know that we are always on an upward progression and trend because God wants the church to grow. I believe that you are going to play a part just as much as we are here at hashtag church to try to develop, equip and resource the church. We are called to have more people in the kingdom tomorrow than we did today. We want to make heaven crowded.