As a strategic thinker, I’ve got a prediction about a specific aspect of church life that will happen in the next 15-20 years. First, some context: consolidation of business is a historical reality in the US. We used to have scores of auto manufacturers and today there are a handful of US-owned car makers. The same is true of phone companies, office supply stores, department stores, and so on. For one reason or another, businesses merge till there are only a few. Call it survival of the fittest, or best, or biggest.
I predict some consolidation in churches. Technology allows me to watch via podcasts preachers from around the US. Technology allows my multisite church to have one preacher whose message is viewed in a variety of unique campuses. My prediction is that small and mid-sized churches will select one or more excellent preachers to deliver the weekly message while their on-site pastor focuses on pastoral duties. We are entering an age when there will be fewer but more excellent preachers and they will be on screens in worship venues.
Currently there are several outstanding preachers (Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, etc., etc.) whose messages are regularly above your average sermon. They also have large local churches but also national and international followings and even church presences around the world. These are global preachers who, through technology, can preach almost anywhere in the world.
A well-developed and delivered sermon requires about 15-20 hours of work. That is time that the pastor of a church cannot spend on other requirements of his or her job. What if churches allowed their pastor to preach less and focus more on being a pastor. The pastor would still preach periodically during the year so the church hears the vision and direction of the church.
But most of the year, sermons will be delivered on screen by a selection of outstanding sermon-givers. That allows pastors & churches to focus on worshipping, caring, mission-doing, teaching, and fellowshipping (the main functions of the church). This gives the pastor 15-20 hours a week to meet people, train leaders, and give direction to the church. This helps the pastor have more family time and less weekly pressure “to produce.”
I know there will always be pastors who want to preach and that is fine – there will always be churches who want a “live preacher.” However, technology has the capability of letting churches hear more excellent preachers and help local pastors focus on doing what only they can do – be the local pastor.