The Future of the Church

The Future of the Church

November 9, 2015 by

When my children were younger I would give them iPads to hold their attention while I had to tend to other things. This early introduction helped them become comfortable with technology at an early age. Many of us have seen toddlers “click and swipe” to their favorite apps or watch their favorite Netflix cartoon. The fact that these kids can work these mobile devices without instruction or supervision is amazing in itself. But what’s even more amazing is that the technology that these kids are using is the oldest technology they will see in their lifetime. The iPads and mobile devices that we think are groundbreaking will be like 8-tracks and Betamaxes to the kids when they get older.

So the question is, if the church is behind in technology now, how will it look in the future trying to reach a digitally native generation that is fully immersed in technology and has been since they were toddlers?

Millennials will disconnect from the churches that don’t meet them where they’re at.

A Customized Experience

The “digital natives” and “millennials” are used to having an Internet customized to their needs. Their Facebook newsfeeds are customized for them to see what they want to see. Their Google search results are customized for them. Netflix and Spotify give suggestions based on what they like. Thus they are used to having online experiences that cater to them. Therefore, when they look at their online (or offline) church experience, and it’s outdated or disconnected, it doesn’t fit every other aspect of their connected lives and therefore they disconnect. But contrary to what certain churches think, these kids don’t disconnect from church or God altogether. Instead they disconnect from the churches that don’t meet them where they’re at.

In terms of church, millennials and digitals will look for innovative, immersive, engaging and customized online experiences. They get this in every other aspect of their lives, why should their faith based/inspirational experiences be any different? They will live lives that have no boundaries between online and offline. They will build online communities that have offline components and have offline experiences that have online audiences. The church will need to look at how they do church offline and figure out how to apply that in an online space.

And before we look down on the latest generation for demanding changes from their church, that’s exactly what every generation has done. We have the seeker-sensitive movement and the rise of contemporary worship, all driven by the demands of a new generation. Other generations have voted with their butts and gone elsewhere or spoken out through complaints (and threats) to the pastor. Millennials are no different.

Back to the Future

Here is a glimpse of the future of church that I see based on what technologies we have now and what’s emerging:

When we look at the Internet of things and an always connected future, we can conceivably see a future where we are never disconnected and the things we look at everyday will now be smart-objects that are internet connected.

  • We will get up in the morning and either our smart-watch or some web-enabled device will tell let us know how we slept and what we have planned for the day.
  • As we walk to the mirror to brush our teeth and wash our face, we will see a smart-mirror with a screen where we see a motivational Scripture passages or a clip of a inspirational message.
  • As we walk to the smart-refrigerator it will tell us what we should eat based on how we fit our smart clothes and our diet goals that we want to achieve. Additionally, on the panel of the fridge will be a Bible verse that we want to remember for the day or even a continuation of the sermon we were watching on the bathroom mirror.
  • As we gather our items for the day to go out and about, we look at our watch and it gives us our vitals as well as exercise goals we have for the day.
  • We tell our family goodbye but we are never disconnected from them as we can always see where they are and communicate with them from our mobile device or our smart watch.
  • As we leave we put on our smart glasses and we look around our neighborhood and the glasses show us which neighbors could use a motivational post on social media or word of encouragement based on their social media updates. We can choose to stop by or send a message online.
  • Lastly, we get into the car and we go work but since the cars are self-driving, the entire windshield is a screen and shows the weekly sermon or podcast. If that’s not something we want to do, then we join our Internet church online group Bible study that has members from all around the world and we all video in and stay connected and talk about our weekly spiritual goals.

That’s just a glimpse of the Internet-connected future that the church can play a role in by taking the life-changing gospel message and making it available using innovative methods. Take church outside the walls and to the people, as missionaries do. But instead of traditional missionaries, think about the impact of digital missionaries and the ever growing digital mission field. That’s the future of the church.


Jason will be sharing more about the future of the church in his video for the Nines, an online conference featuring short videos from a wide range of speakers. This year the event is Nov. 10-11.

Post By:

Jason Caston

Jason Caston is the author of The iChurch Method and an Internet church strategist. In addition to speaking and teaching around the world, he enjoys spending time with his family while using an Apple product to browse Google software.
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6 Responses to “The Future of the Church”

  • Katy Dunigan
    November 10, 2015

    Yes, you are correct! We recognized the need for churches to move into the digital world in order to stay relevant in the lives of their members, so we developed an online member directory solution that includes a mobile app! It embraces both the traditional printed member directory while utilizing the powerful elements of digital technology! It’s an effective ministry tool as it serves both the “traditionalists” from the non-digital generation and the “techies” who embrace and rely on digital technology in their daily lives! Pretty awesome idea! Check it out! :-)

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    • Jason
      November 10, 2015

      Very cool concept Katy, I liked this directory

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  • Steve Simms
    November 10, 2015

    The digital natives are used to being fully engaged as participants, not pacified as laid-back spectators. The new normal in church will allow ordinary people to speak and testify in church meetings. Check out worship’s new normal:

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    • Jason
      November 10, 2015

      Very interesting Steve, where do you think these church meetings will occur? Online, offline, a new place we haven’t considered yet?

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  • Steve Fogg
    November 11, 2015

    Hey Jason,

    It sounds like you have experience in this. Maybe you should think about setting up a church online? :)

    But seriously, love your thinking! I would say how can churches engage with the community online/on their TVs in a way that doesn’t suck. How will church services change/adapt to this opportunity. Will they?



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    • Jason
      November 11, 2015

      Hey Steve!!

      As Apple TVs, Roku’s and Android TVs become more commonplace, then the church will start with broadcasting services on TV (the cost of doing this will be so low that many churches will join in). But the real advancement will come when cameras are added to these internet tv devices or some new advancement arrives (looking at you VR) that makes these tv experiences interactive…once that arrives, what an even better future the church could have!

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