Monday, January 9, 2012

Spiritual Trends Predicted for 2012

I read an article today in Charisma magazine about Twelve Spiritual Trends for 2012.  Here are five that really stood out to me:

America will experience a church-growth resurgence.  The number of new churches being planted in the United States has now surpassed the number of church closures.  While mainline churches are dying, as many as 5,000 new churches are being started every year in this country – mostly by newer, evangelical networks that offer a nontraditional style of ministry.  If this trend continues unhindered we could see the same explosion of church growth and revivalism that the U.S. experienced from 1795-1810 when Baptists and Methodists evangelized America for the first time.

The debate over approving homosexuality will take center stage.  The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Presbyterian Church USA have all abandoned Biblical standards of sexuality in the last few years, and the United Methodist Church tendency is likely to step in that same direction.  Evangelical, and even Pentecostal groups are flirting with the idea that God approves of homosexual practice.  Bible-believing Christians can’t continue ignoring this issue.  Openly approved in society, and now in the military, the local church is next.

The economic downturn in the U.S. will ultimately be good for churches.  (1)  People tend to be more dependent on God during tough times; (2) During an economic downturn, non-Christians are more likely to see the church’s efforts to reach them as love rather than exploitation; (3)  People who need Christ are more ready to hear about eternal life when they are less secure about earthly things; and (4) Christians are more likely to give to missions when they have been awakened to the fragility of material things.

Look for a radical reformation to occur in charismatic and Pentecostal churches.  Young leaders in these churches are rejecting the old practices of event-driven, money-focused, emotional sensationalism that has tainted this movement.  Churches that insist on basing their ministry values on exotic manifestations, media showmanship, and the prosperity gospel will become irrelevant to an audience starved for authenticity.  Expect to see more embarrassing scandals in this movement in 2012, both moral and financial.  The Holy Spirit is cleaning house and removing the cancer of immorality and greed that has been spreading behind closed doors among high-profile leaders.   These scandals will rock the largest media ministries in the country and will redefine the spiritual landscape.  But in the end, the exposing of sin will produce a new fear of God and a return to accountability, integrity, and holiness.

Denominations will be redefined.  Younger leaders today are uncomfortable with the rigidity and cookie-cutter uniformity imposed by denominations.  They place a high value on relationships and aren’t attracted to wasteful or needless structures for the hierarchy.  In order to keep younger ministers on board, some denominations will ditch old wineskins and change tired policies.  The emphasis will shift from strict hierarchy to team-based leadership, and from impersonal organization to organic relationships.  Denominations that don’t make this shift will shrink and become irrelevant. 

No comments: