11 Trends For 2011

Our friends over at “Out of Ur” recently posted these thoughts from Will Mancini concerning the ministry trends we’re likely to see in this coming year… 

Will Mancini, church “clarity evangelist” and author of Church Unique, is committed to helping churches find their vision for ministry. His work gives him an interesting view of the ministry landscape. Below are his predictions about new and enduring trends we can expect in North American ministry in 2011 and beyond. This post originally appeared at Will’s blog. We’ve condensed it here with his permission.

1: Increasing diversity of opinion about what good vision and strategy look like

In 2010, Craig Groeschel posted on the Death of the 5 Year Plan, yet vision mavens like Jim Collins still talk about 20-year BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). To add to the confusion, the list of “how-to-do-church” books grows exponentially. We’ve gone from simple, deep, organic and total to sticky, viral, dangerous and hybrid. Are we getting clear yet?

2: Articulating the biggest picture will be the leader’s greatest asset

Every church leader is saturated with countless best practices, bombarded with more communication, and ministering to people struggling with increasingly complex lives. This gives us a hyper-need for clarity. Communicating Jesus-centered meaning in life has never had more competition. The best leaders won’t take the most basic assumptions for granted.

3: Social media will open new possibilities for more churches

Unfortunately most churches lag behind the “real world” by 10 years or so when it comes to technology and communication. But online giants like LifeChurch.tv not only lead the way with technology, but do so generously by offering sites and apps like VideoTeaching.com and YouVersion.com. There is a new world of possibilities for vision and strategy not just for large churches but for every spiritual leader with an innovative spirit. Church online, Facebook, and Twitter are just the tip of the iceburg. For example, check out Gordon Marcy, John Saddington, Charles Lee, and Terry Storch.

4: Visioning and spiritual formation will emerge more visibly as disciplines

True visioning in the local church should always be a Spirit-led, Word-anchored exercise of daily spiritual formation. But it is easy to separate the strategic and the spiritual in daily practice. In the future there will be little tolerance for strategic conversations and visioning exercises that aren’t first God-worshipping and God-listening initiatives. Church leaders are tired of anything in the name of vision that smacks of corporate ideology.

5: Small will continue to be the new big

Thinking, acting and leading small will continue to mark the church landscape. First is the new normal of multi-site churches. Leadership Network played a key role in accelerating this innovation which helps larger churches expand through smaller beachheads. Second, as church planting and missional thinking continue to expand, smaller expressions—from house churches to missional communities—become more legit against the traditional, monolithic measurement of big-church-butts-in-seats. We have recently witnessed the birth of a new network to small town, small church America called The Sticks. Last year brought counter-intuitive book titles and blog posts like The Strategically Small Church and The Micro Manifesto.

6: Networks will become the new denominations

As new learning, new strategies, and new relationship cluster in frontline church planting networks—Acts 29, Redeemer City to City, New Thing, ARC, ChurchPlanters.com, PLNTD, Vision360 and the  ICF Movement—the knowledge, encouragement, and accountability of traditional denominations become less valuable. Please note that these networks are not trying to be new denominations. Some effective networks, like Stadia and the Church Multiplication Network, are denominationally based. But the momentum of these networks is changing the game.

7: Leaders will pay more attention to shorter time horizons

The emphasis on leadership in the future will be preparing for the uncertainties of the future, rather than trying to predict them. As a result, answering the question, “Where is God taking us?” requires a 90-day focus and a 1-year horizon of shared storytelling like never before. Will other time horizons be important? Yes they will, but not like the way we used to think about it.

8: The intersection of personal and organizational vision will be magnified

Peter Drucker recognize early on that the movement from an industrial to an information paradigm would push the envelope on personal clarity and self-management for business and non-profit leaders. Yet I find very little evidence in the ministry world that a hunger for personal clarity is making an organizational difference. Even so, I suspect this is coming.

9: Visioning will involve making meaning rather than predicting the future

Life brings a daily tidal wave of monotony. We all fight to keep our daily routine vital and life-giving in view of greater purposes. A key attribute of vision is and always will be how it keeps people focused on the future. But one aspect of vision that will bring increasing value is how it refocuses our work today. This is why I like the word “clarity” as a practical substitute for “vision,” especially in church. Expect that people will not care about where you church is going until you can make meaning for them right now. Why am I in worship? Why should I participate in a small group? Why should I give to your church? Clarity today before you envision tomorrow.

10: External focus and biblical justice will stay prominent

Now that biblical justice has returned to mainstream evangelicalism, it will remain a prominent feature in our vision and strategy work. Strengthening this trend will be a generation of Millennials who will rise in organizational leadership. They mark an era of altruism where volunteerism and social entrepreneurship are the standard not the exception. Generationally speaking, they care more about people “outside of the organization” than the boomers did. The mantra we will continue to see, sparked by Eric Swanson, is “Don’t be the best church in the community, be the best church for the community.

11: Churches will consult for vision clarity rather than for capital campaigns

For almost four decades, capital campaign consulting has been the dominant category for “strategic outsiders” in local churches. The role of consulting is moving away from packaged campaigns and programs towards the ability to navigate organic and culture-savvy solutions. Help in clarifying vision has become the most common reason for a pastor to pursue a consultant, according to the Society of Church Consulting.

Not that I agree with all of Mancini’s conclusions but many of them may indeed be right on the money!


About Jim

I'm currently the Communications Director for Missouri Operation for Vigorous Evangelism [MOVE] A Church planting ministry located in Jefferson City, MO. I believe that the church is the primary means through which God works in a community to love and redeem it. Here at MOVE we’re discovering new ways to be used for this purpose as God leads us and lights His path for us. As God forms this organization and shapes it for a new kind of world I want to be right in the middle of what He’s doing, traveling on this road of a disciple’s journey.

2 responses to “11 Trends For 2011”

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. 11 Trends For 2011 « The Refiners Fire | Jim Collins: Author - January 25, 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: