Tomorrow’s church: Changing the way we meet, the way we learn, and the way we lead.


There are certain points in history when change is inevitable. Certain time periods are associated with broad scale social change, which eventually trickles down into every institution. The Industrial Revolution reshaped society and institutions. There are many signs that we are going through a shift just as significant, which is changing the way we do everything – including how we learn, interact and see ourselves.

The impact of the internet on our society is huge. Nobody has to be a passive consumer anymore. Everyone has the choice to be an active participant. We are never turning back from that. Once ordinary people are given a voice, and an opportunity to express it, they won’t ever give it up. Businesses, media, schools and governments are going to have to deal with this creatively and sensitively – and many already are.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to explore how the church can take advantage of this broader cultural shift to change church culture from within. The societal changes which are such a headache to businesses are a golden opportunity for the church. For the first time in many years, the church is poised to return to a more interactive model of meeting, where all of God’s people are empowered to participate and to minister to one another.

By the time we finish this series together, I hope to have communicated some adaptable strategies that every healthy church can consider to shift the way they meet, the way they learn and the way they lead. Here are some of the topics I will cover;

How to create a connecting culture
  • by rearranging the seating
  • by connecting through stories
  • by sharing food together

How to activate a hands-on learning environment

  • through action and reflection
  • through direct access to God’s Story
  • through one-another prayer
How to develop a liberating leadership
  • one true leader (Jesus), many teachers (each other)
  • facilitation, not performance
  • listening is the new talking
I hope you enjoy journeying through these suggestions with me, and that this triggers new thoughts and ideas for you – please share them with me along the way!This post is an introduction to my 12 part blog series – “Tomorrow’s church: a new formula for a new era“. Subscribe now or follow me on Facebook so you don’t miss any posts. I’d love you to interact and discuss the ideas in these posts, and share your experiences. The next post will be called “Welcome to a new era” and discusses the transitional time we are living in today, which has significant implications for the church.

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16 thoughts on “Tomorrow’s church: Changing the way we meet, the way we learn, and the way we lead.

  1. Pingback: A new format for a new era – a new blog series to change church culture from within. | Church in a Circle

  2. Hi Kathleen,

    I’m looking forward to your series, it’s going to be fascinating to read what you have to say.

    I’ll make an observation right at the outset. Historically there have been many significant changes in church life and tradition and they have almost always been resisted at first. Do you think the same will happen now?

    And here’s a second thought. If there are going to be some fresh changes they will need to be Papa’s changes, worked out by the Son and communicated by the Spirit. Changes we dream up for ourselves will not be useful. The danger of the internet driving change is simply that it may not take us in the right direction. It will be an influence for sure – for good or ill.

    Having said that, I think the changes you envisage have the potential to be very good and very much in line with the Father’s purpose.

  3. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your encouragement. You’ve made some great points and I’ll attempt to address them all.

    I agree that significant changes are always resisted – by the church, as in any organisation. In fact, many Christians resist change because they’ve linked the format to their theology, making it very difficult to shift from there. However, the reason I am writing this series now, in 2012, is because the shift is already happening on a wide-spread, global scale. More and more of God’s people are starting up organic/ missional churches which are replicating and spreading rapidly. Missional speakers such as Neil Cole, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch have busy schedules speaking to leaders of established churches who want to get on board and change the culture and focus of their gatherings. We’re close to reaching the “tipping point” towards change – the point where the “early majority” gets on board, not just the “innovators” and “early adopters.” I’m hearing of many churches who are spontaneously changing the seating and structure of their meetings. I don’t expect change to happen overnight, but once it starts, momentum will build gradually.

    Your second thought is also entirely valid. Unless the Lord builds the house, the labourers will work in vain. Unless Jesus is at the centre of everything we do, it’s not church, and it’s not good. I am praying earnestly that I don’t suggest any strategies which drive people away from Jesus to models and methods. Not all of the social changes in this connected era will be positive, by any means. However, we have moved out of an extended period of Christendom without changing the basic structures of it, and this time period we are entering gives us the opportunity to rethink things – to dream, to pray, to seek God’s will and re-examine the biblical perspective on what church was meant to be.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I love the way you talk of our Papa – it’s great to be siblings on this journey together! God’s community is awesome.

    – Kathleen

  4. Jesus desires to express Himself, for us to encounter, and understand Him. So we are left with two options, business as usual, as in the current flavor of churches.

    Or allow Him to express Himself outside of the current flavor of churches.

    As they say on Fox NFL Sports… “C’Mon Man!”

    Kathleen, I’m excited to see where this may lead, thank you for expressing the Life, that is within you!

    • Thanks Jim. I would love to see churches move beyond business-as-usual in this creative time we live in – so that Jesus can express himself and encounter us in ways we haven’t experienced before.

      – Kathleen

  5. Pingback: Tomorrow’s Church – Part 1: Welcome to a new era. | Church in a Circle

    • Thanks so much, Keith. I’m really glad you visited my blog. I enjoyed reading your series. It’s very encouraging to “meet” others who are thinking about and engaging in similar approaches. I look forward to hearing more insights from you, and plan to read more of your work.

      To anyone who is reading this; check out Keith’s series at the link he has posted above. He writes about what an open meeting looks like in practise – based on real-life experience. He especially has some great pointers for leaders, who need to adjust their mindset considerably in this format. I also noticed he has written some books and generously offers free copies of some of them as ebooks.

      – Kathleen

  6. Pingback: Tomorrow’s church – Part 5: Food and fellowship. | Church in a Circle

  7. Pingback: Tomorrow’s church – Part 4: Connecting through story. | Church in a Circle

  8. Pingback: Tomorrow’s church – Part 6: From spoon-feeding to hands-on learning | Church in a Circle

  9. Pingback: Tomorrow’s church – Part 7: Learning through shared experiences. | Church in a Circle

  10. Pingback: Tomorrow’s church – Part 8: Discovery learning in church | Church in a Circle

  11. Pingback: Tomorrow’s church – Part 9: Digging Deeper Into God’s Story. | Church in a Circle

  12. Pingback: Tomorrow’s church – Part 10: Hand them the ball – From performance to facilitation. | Church in a Circle

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