Trends in Churches of Christ - part 1
Few have as much contact with churches of Christ in the U.S. than Dale Jenkins who works with his brother Jeff at the Jenkins institute, a ministry to encourage preachers. From his interaction with over 1,500 churches and preachers, here are his observations (because of length, each point was edited from the original):
- Our churches are becoming YOUNGER.
A trend observed in the 1970s was the graying of the American church. Jenkins writes “I am almost always shocked when I visit rural churches at how many children and young families I see. It is more often than not that the church is full of babies and children.”
- Our churches are becoming more racially diverse.
Jenkins notes. “As our country is ablaze in racial tension, MOST of our churches are not playing along!” He says “in most of our medium to large cities, you will find churches with a moderate to high racial diversity. It is nothing rare to find many congregations who have historically been white to have black men in their leadership. There is nothing shocking here and nothing should be (Isaiah 2:2)!”
2. Our leaders are humble and generous.
Even during a difficult pandemic Jenkins says “Yes, there are some difficult leaders out there and a number of our congregations seem to be tormented with a single particular Diotrephes (see 3 John 1:9). But, while these bad leaders stand out, the overwhelming majority of our elders are very humble, very gentle, and very generous. 2020 was especially challenging for leaders in congregations, but throughout our talks with elders, we saw a shepherding spirit that showed through.”
3, Our leaders are becoming more optimistic and less restrictive and controlling.
He says, “Again, nothing scientific here and I’m not speaking for the whole church but it certainly feels like there is much more optimism than pessimism in the churches I am seeing. Churches are dreaming of what can be. Leaders are looking to move forward and aggressive to that end. “
4. Evangelism is on the upswing.
Jenkins states that more churches are looking for personal work ministers, ministers of evangelism or “connections ministers” to add to their staff.
(to be continued)