Deep Trends Affecting Religious Institutions

(adapted from an article in Faith and Leadership, July 28, 2014)

Congregational leaders know something about what Charles Hummel has called “the tyranny of the urgent,” the way that the often-unrelenting demands can make congregational leadership primarily reactive. Ministry can seem like chronic crisis management.

Over years spent in ministry, though, many of the most effective congregational leaders discipline themselves to set aside significant and inviolable time annually to plan and to think proactively for the sake of their congregation. Essential in this time is not just a clear-eyed assessment of congregational life but also a much more thoroughgoing examination of the trends and patterns that are shaping life and culture both within and beyond faith communities. Such an exploration allows these leaders to decide which opportunities they feel led to pursue strategically, which challenges they will ignore and what capacities they need to cultivate within themselves and within their leadership teams.  

It can be difficult to distinguish between what is trend and what is fad, what will shape the landscape versus what will only make a momentary appearance upon it. Getting other perspectives can offer a more complete picture of the landscape and can make for better decision-making in response.

In a column for Faith & Leadership (link below), Greg Jones and Nathan Jones identify several phenomena that they believe are deep trends already shaping congregational, institutional and denominational life in the United States. Are you seeing these trends in your ministry settings? If so, how are you responding? Are there other trends that you are noticing? How are you leading – not just reactively but proactively?


Deep trends affecting Christian Institutions by L. Gregory Jones and Nathan Jones

Additional Resources (Optional):


When God Left the Building:
Official movie website with lists of showings and information on how to host a screening event for your congregation or congregational cluster/network.

Faith Formation 2020 Resource Center and Lifelong Faith Website

Tools and resources for congregations and their leaders in imaging new directions for faith formation and designing 21st century innovations.  Resources include materials focused on the 4 scenarios noted in Module 2.


Losing Our Religion (CBS Video segment)

Leave a Reply