Yeah. I know it’s a month away from end-of-decade-prediction time but I feel the first one coming on now. I think the next decade of 2010 to 2020 will involve a revisiting of the 1930’s, especially in relation to church and mission.
The church in the West will use up much of this coming decade to rebound from the financial recession and to restructure in a more sustainable way, much like the church did in the 1930’s after the Great Recession which started about 1929. As a response to the financial bruising on the Western church system (church, seminary, publishing. parachurch, conference – all of which are co-dependent and therefore suffering together), new forms of Christian based co-operative structures will emerge, as they did with Toyohiko Kagawa in 1930’s Japan.
I wrote in 1999 that the next decade (this present decade) would see young people “turn old church buildings into art lounges“. That happened. But in this new decade, many of these new art lounges, recording studios, coffee houses, craft spaces, and new media labs will move to a deeper level of involvement and empowerment.
In the next decade, a stronger business sense will inform these new forms as well as assist the new monastic communities and traditional churches in general. In a concerted effort to get church ministry on a solid financial footing, or to start new ministries with a diminished budget, many traditional churches will offer their buildings mid-week as micro-business enterprise labs and will become micro-credit unions for their local communities. The word “fellowship” will regain its meaning of sharing and risk-taking. Emerging church energies will be re-directed from creative worship arts to creative social enterprises which will enable long term sustainability. In both realms, women will come to the front as some of the most successful missional entrepreneurs
Having already “re-traditioned” and “re-sourced” our theological and missiological base for church and mission, we will feel more confident to launch out further into the world with transformational models that will change the world without draining the next generation’s resources. The next decade will be a time of sustainable outreach, measurable by a far more holistic criteria of success (4 bottom lines?) and we will find helpful and surprising precedents in the 1930’s.
But then again, I am not a prophet and I could be horribly and embarrassingly WRONG!