Surprising Church Trends

Surprised ManIn his1995 Broadman & Holman book, Giant AwakeningsThom S. Rainer shared nine surprising trends he saw in the church world that could benefit the church. Let’s look at a couple of the trends here….

  • A movement towards prayer. Rainer believed that the trend towards prayer was the most important of all. He did not suggest that everyone in the church was developing a hunger for prayer, but that more people were becoming interested in the merits of prayer than in the past. He hoped that hunger for prayer would spread throughout the church. He wrote:

A phenomenon that offers no easy explanation is the presence of a singular prayer warrior in many churches. One person is touched by God in an extraordinary manner. He or she (though most of the prayer warriors that I have known are females) has a burden for prayer that will not abate. Through formal prayer ministries or simply through informal channels, this person becomes a leader and a conduit through which the burden for prayer spreads to the congregation.

  • The renewal of the Sunday School. Rainer believed that most growing churches had healthy Sunday Schools. How appropriate that he is now serving as the president of LifeWay Resources. I agree with his emphasis on the Sunday School and its relationship to church growth, but the truth is, not just any Sunday School will do. Rainer wrote:

It cannot be overemphasized that the Sunday School must be one of quality: in teaching, in outreach, in assimilating, and in caring. Merely filling slots with unmotivated and uncaring teachers and workers will do more harm than good.

This trend seems to be continuing today. At a recent meeting in Nashville, Dr. Rainer talked about 7 Mega trends in Church Health today. Rainer confirmed that there is still a resurgence of the “open group.” He said, “traditionally we’ve called it Sunday School, but it may not always be called Sunday School today. Regardless of what you call it, there is a resurgence of the open group today.”

I encourage you, in the coming months, to focus more energy on prayer and on Sunday School. Launch a prayer team or organize a prayer event. Start a new missional Sunday School class or move your current classes to be missional in their approach (Ed Stetzer has written a number of books on The Missional Church). For more information on starting new Sunday School classes, see 10 Excuses to Start New Classes, Part 1 and 10 Excuses to Start New Classes, Part 2 by David Francis.

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