Mark Brown had an interesting post over at Facebook and on his blog, Ministry in the not too distant future.

Here is what he says:

Seeing this visitor diversity reminded me of the huge shift presently happening in society: moving from relating geographically to relating through networks or interests. This is being driven by the massive growth of the internet. In the not too distant future where you live will mean very little to whom you relate to and the context of your work.

Your workplace may well be wherever you want it to be, your ministry field perhaps on the other side of the world. The most obvious positive is that we potentially can reach huge numbers of people for a fraction of the cost (no travel expenses, venue set up costs etc..) And the negative is that we won’t have as much face to face contact. And for most of us this is the biggest struggle : the idea that we relate without meeting face to face. To quote Hugh Mackay, no longer do we need to be physically present to be in community.

The massive challenge facing us in the church and church organisations is that we are all deeply invested in the geographic model. Parishes are located in suburbs, with autonomous Christian organisations, one to each country. So as this shift away from geography builds momentum we are in for quite a shock.

It is essential that leaders start to wrestle with this otherwise we may well be left wondering where all the people went.. wait isn’t that happening already?

I agree with Mark regarding the essence of his comments here. I think we are seeing a shift away from a geographical based model of church. That is not to say that people will stop gathering at church, but how that looks I think will be very different than the model we see now. I think more and more people will be connected through online networks and gather more locally then drive to church.

I think we will see more and more people connected physically to various networks of ministry, instead of attendance at one church where they participate in everything such as worship, small groups, prayer, etc. It will be more of a modular model that Andrew Jones talked about at GodblogCon.

Two things I think pastors, church leaders need to start wrestling with if they haven’t already:

1) Shift from geographical based ministry to online community/networking based. This does not mean people still won’t gather, but how, where and when they gather will change.

2) Technology is allowing the people/congregants to self-organize, collaborate and participate without having to go through traditional means and hierarchies of the church. I think this will change the role of the pastor drastically from the top-down leader, to more of a facilitator. I think that means we will see less and less traditional roles of pastors, and maybe even less full-time positions, etc.

Thinking out loud. What do you think? Where do you see this already happening?