I love following church trends. I have been researching and consulting with churches for over thirty years. It's just what I do.
Sometimes I am pretty good about projecting current trends toward a future reality. Of course, I've had my share of misses as well. Still, I thoroughly enjoy every facet about studying local churches.
This time, however, I can make a definitive statement. I can tell you seven things in the church that will not change. In the fast pace of change in local congregations, these seven constants are good reminders of what really matters.
1.The Bible is still the Word of God. It always has been and always will be. It is sharper than a two-edged sword. It is powerful because it is the Word of God.
2.The gospel still changes lives. The gospel is the power unto salvation. The gospel transforms lives. The gospel is the same regardless of other changes in our churches.
3.Small groups are still vital. In the New Testament, groups sometimes met together in homes or other places. Throughout Church history, the role of groups has been vital. It is the place where community is established and where deep truths are taught. It has been called Sunday school, small groups, home groups, and cell groups. But they are all forms of small groups creating community and fellowship and learning.
4.The mission field still needs workers. That includes the mission fields to the farthest ends of the earth. And it includes the community in our backyard.
5.Prayer is still powerful. God is still using praying churches. Never, ever take for granted the power of pervasive prayer.
6.Hurting people still need ministry. Pain and hurt may come in different names over the years, but the needs are still similar. A church that truly cares for people will always have a place in the community. A church that sees people through the eyes of Jesus will always be effective.
7.God is still in control. Sometimes the pace of change confuses and disorients us. Sometimes the amount of suffering in the world challenges us. Sometimes we feel like there is no hope. Remember, God is still in control. He always has been; He always will be. He is there for you and your church.
I admit that I often have fun looking at trends and cultural forces that are changing our society and affecting our churches. Such is the bubble in which I often find myself.
But for many, the pace of change is disconcerting if not frightening. It can seem those things that we cherish are changing too fast or even being taken away from us. We all need these reminders that so much of God's work in His churches will never change. These are the things that really matter. These are the things that really make a difference in our churches and the world in which we minister.
What other reminders can you give us? What are some constants that will never change in our churches? What really does matter?