The future church in America will look significantly different from today's church because a new generation of pastors is adopting a different understanding of "success" and "location," a new survey reveals.
According to a report released by the Dallas-based Leadership Network titled "How a New Generation of Pastors Is Shifting to Strategies That Reproduce and Multiply," the vast majority of pastors younger than 40 (83 percent) value not just reproduction, defined as "starting a new church or campus," but multiplication, or "starting new churches or campuses with the vision that they, too, will start new churches or campuses — who also do likewise."
The study, which involved more than 1,500 participants, found that the younger the church and/or pastor, the more likely to be multisite and the more drawn toward the idea of multiplication.
When responding to this statement, "We have a future vision to plant/launch," church planters and campus pastors in their first five years at a church said "yes" compared to just 17 percent of leaders who had been at their churches or campuses more than 10 years.
Warren Bird, director of Research and Intellectual Capital Development at the Leadership Network and the report's lead researcher, said that previously, churches were focused on the idea of "growing big" and "reproducing." Now, he said, "young leaders are rejecting the idea that success equals growing something big on their own."
"They are also not content with just growing their own ministry and then reproducing it in other places," he explained. "There is an emerging strain of young leaders who understand that the mission of Jesus is accomplished through movement. They are also grasping parts of the secret that God's mission expands when you have aspirations for the Kingdom and not just for your church."
The study also found that in recent decades, there's been a dramatic increase in church planting (churches that birth new churches), and new churches reach unchurched people far better than older churches.