How church is changing in the 21st century (and why it’s a good thing)

Time for change

Last century, most churches followed pretty much the same format. People met in a special building, sat in rows, sang some songs, and listened to a sermon. The room was set up either as a classroom (with an expert delivering information), or as a performance venue (with a performer providing inspiration), or some combination of the two. Either way, the people in the rows listened silently while the person on the stage did all the talking. It was a one-way flow of information and inspiration.

This century, the world around us is changing. The internet is the first ever truly two-way media. Instead of sitting back and being broadcasted at, we are now active participants and contributors. We now place a priority on connection, on being part of the conversation, on participation. People have 24/7 access to high-quality information and inspiration, so they no longer need to go to church for those things. Slowly but surely, these global, societal shifts are changing the way we do church.

More and more people in churches are tired of sitting silently, staring at the backs of each other’s heads – they want to connect with one another, to love and support and encourage and build one another up, like the Bible tells us to. People are tired of meeting in special buildings and hiding away from the world around them – they want to transform their neighbourhoods and communities. God’s people are tired of being passive consumers, sitting back in the pews and quietly listening – they want to be active participants, empowered to have a voice and make a difference.

Some churches have stopped meeting in special buildings, and started getting together in homes, in coffee shops, in bars, in community centres, even in the local park. Some churches are sticking with the traditional service, but making their sermons shorter and giving people opportunity to question and discuss what they’ve learned. Still others are forming groups to focus on their neighbourhood and community, and to embrace the marginalised in their cities. More and more churches are finding creative ways to prioritise connection, dialogue, participation and empowerment.

These changes are exciting, because the church is starting to look more like it did in the New Testament – not a hierarchy, but a community of brothers and sisters, all equals under one head, who all had a voice and participated in worship together, in their homes and in their neighbourhoods. Preachers are becoming facilitators, willing to share the stage and the microphone to give all of God’s people a voice and an impact. Church was never supposed to be a lecture theatre or an entertainment complex, but the family of God building one another up to impact the world and restore it to God.


4 thoughts on “How church is changing in the 21st century (and why it’s a good thing)

  1. It is good to see and realize that more and more the Lord is directing His children toward mutuality and not clergy-laity system in organized Christianity. He is moving in a new way toward building up His organic Body, of whom He is the Head and we all are the many members.

    In His eyes the church is glorious, wonderful, without any spot or wrinkle. But as for us, we have different views and practices, and many times the enemy uses these to divide us. We need to come back to God’s word, stand on His word, practice His word, breathe His word in and speak His word to others, and be recovered to God’s original intention. May the Lord recover us all back to what He intends, what is in His heart – the church, His counterpart, which – once built up – will end this age and bring in the kingdom age!

  2. This change has been slowly gaining momentum for years and I’ve quickly seen it gain steam in the last twelve to eighteen months. My prayer is that this change will begin to happen more steadily and more quickly on a consistent basis.

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