Brave New World

December 29, 2010

It’s kind of hard to believe.  The twenty-first century is 10% over with.  Just ten years ago, we were panicking over computers not knowing what year it was.  Crazy.

When we reach landmarks like this, it always makes me think about where the world will be, and where I hope I’ll be in ten more years.  In ten years, I’ll be nearly done with my thirties, and I hope I’ll have done a lot with those years. 

It’s fun to make predictions about what will happen in the future, so that’s what I’m doing today.  For better or worse, here are a few things I think will take place in the church, politics, and culture.  Chime in with you predictions for the next decade too.

The Church

In the next ten years, many churches will close their doors.  Some will hang on for dear life, continuing to resemble relics of a now bygone era of American religion.  Many denominations will continue to shrink and even disappear.  The Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian USA denominations are my top three “endangered” churches.  But something new will take their place.  House churches will become accepted as a mainstream alternative to traditional church.   The multi-site ministries of today will have grown into multi-city ministries, also known as “denominations” themselves in ten years.

The irony of Americans today is that we think we’re so smart and educated that we won’t be manipulated or tricked again, like all those deluded people who were scammed by last century’s televangelists.  But Christianity will continue to be infected with “self-improvement” and “prosperity” Christianity.  This will become even more popular as our prosperity and self-worth decreases.  Exploiting Jesus will never go out of vogue.

The people who identify themselves as Christians will continue to decline.  Twenty years ago, being a “Christian” was necessary to be a respectable member of society.  Now that this isn’t the case, people will continue to be winnowed out of the church.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing for the church.  What I am sure of is that the church will go on, whatever it looks like, because it has Jesus as its head.

Brave New World

The world is a crazy place.  I’d like to think that America will last forever, but nothing ever does.  I’m 50-50 on the stability of the country over the next ten years.  President Jefferson believed each new generation needed its own revolution, whatever that means.  If ever there was a time that a revolution was brewing, that time may be now, and history shows we’re overdue.  People are becoming more dependant on a government that grows ever larger, while being less and less able to deliver its promises.  I may lower the odds of an uprising based on the continued wimpification and apathy of many Americans. 

All I know is crap always happens.  History will always repeat itself.  A tyrant may take power, a natural disaster may strike.  The economy could utterly fail.  People will make the same mistakes they did before, either deliberately, or because they are ignorant of history.  They will hail this mistake as progress.  Mark my words.

Islam

The Islamic population will be to Europe what the Latino population is to America.  Europe will look very different in ten years.

The Future is Now!

People will make grand predictions for new technology of the decade.  We’ll be reverse engineering the human brain, curing every disease, we’ll be teleporting instead of driving, and put a computer inside a contact lens, with full Facebook and Twitter capabilities.  Although tech in ten years will be beyond what we can imagine today, we still won’t achieve half of what we think we will, and what we do accomplish won’t make our lives any easier.

Something else to fight about

Gay marriage will be settled as an issue, making way for a new debate, perhaps on plural marriages, or even inter-species marriages.  Christians will be painted as “hateful” and “bigoted” for claiming that a lifestyle based on love is wrong.  After all, many of us said gay marriage shouldn’t be legal, and look how that worked out…

The Simple Life

I think in a lot of ways, young Americans will become so disillusioned with modern life, that they will actually do something about it.  We’ll start reaching back to a simpler way of life.  We’ll build smaller houses, stop buying so much stuff, stop going so deep into debt, probably out of necessity.  We’ll grow more of our own food in our yards.  Someone will open a small retail shop with a poor selection and higher prices than Wal-Mart, and people will flock to it.  Our sense of “social justice” will be more integrated with the way we actually live and consume.

Thursday Night

The Office, season eight will be a sad, sad weekly ritual.

The Social Network

Everything will continue to become a “social” experience…unless of course, people just stop caring.  My hope is that social media and blogging will actually evolve to be used for some great good, like connecting people who want to help others, to the real needs of their communities.

I am at the same time optimistic, yet pessimistic about the coming ten years.  I know people, and I know they always make trouble for themselves.  God doesn’t really need to smite anyone, we’re busy smiting ourselves.  Yet I know that God is in control and He lives among us, and humanity always goes on, no matter what trouble we cause for ourselves.

What do you think the next ten years will hold in religion, politics, technology, culture, or entertainment?

31 responses to Brave New World

  1. there are some fun predictions in there, matt. i think your ideas on islam in europe and marriage in america are spot on.

    and i, like you, am also iffy on the continuation of these united states as a republic, but nowhere near as unsure as 50/50 over the next 10 years. however, i do think straight-up democracies are bound to fail eventually (and that’s what we seem intent on becoming). once a majority realizes they can vote themselves money, they will continue to do so. when it gets to be that too many people are riding in the wheelbarrow — while the votes of those pushing it don’t count for anything — it will all fall apart. but not in the next 10 years.

    as for my own predictions, i don’t have many. not that tanzania isn’t affected at all by what goes on in the world — that would be incredibly foolish, naive, and untrue… but it is indeed interesting to live in a place where the year (or even decade, and in some cases century) doesn’t matter much.

    no one in my town had electricity in 2003, and some of my neighbors now have satellite television. i don’t know a single person who’s ever seen a record, an 8-track, a black-and-white tv, or a vcr. and everyone here got cell phones without first having had landlines. this is true despite the fact that many of them charge their cellphones on old car batteries, because there’s still not electricity in their homes. only 30% of people have water pipes that even enter their property, and very few have bank accounts. yet everyone pays bills using their cell phones, many of which are camera phones.

    2011 is just a number here.
    JamesBrett recently posted..brett’s morning blend 28dec10

  2. I hate to say it, but I can’t help but agree about The Office…
    Tom recently posted..– sunday music- best of 2010

  3. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” my friend! :-)

  4. I enjoyed this post. And Neitzsche may be right in his writings from the Mad Man. “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

    I think for our generation (80’s kids), we will be more accepting and respectful of other religions in America. I already see it in my generation and in the younger generation. I think a sign of maturity sometimes is the fact that a person doesn’t care about something. Like doesn’t get caught up in the drama.

    I think you’re right on with the simpler life prediction. Maybe it’ll take another great depression to usher us into that mode again.

    Yeah the Office is going to suck when Steve Carell leaves.

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com
    Charlie Chang recently posted..Are you recovering

    • I think our generation will be more accepting and respectful of other religions, but partly because many of us aren’t particularly attached to one ourselves, sadly. I think you’re right about the maturity = not getting caught up in the drama, and I’m hoping for that.

  5. In culture, I think that families will begin living with each other in greater numbers. Parents with children, siblings with siblings, things like that. Not primarily because they want to, but because they have to in order to survive.
    seekingpastor recently posted..I Stink and a Few Other Christmas Lessons

  6. All I can say is that I agree 100%. Great post, Matt.
    Jason recently posted..2010 in Review- Top 10 bloggers

  7. Love it, great post. I’m hoping that in the next 10 years the church finally catches up on the AIDS crisis and Creation Care, but I’m sure we’ll neglect another huge social issue. My wife and I are definitely trying to live simpler lives through small means like carpooling or living in a large house with several other people (Who aren’t our children), maybe the communal living will come back in style? That’d play pretty well with the house church prediction you had.
    SethC recently posted..Habits

  8. In 10 years I’ll be nearing the end of my 30s as well. Now I’m a little worried – that sounds so old for what I’m used to, thanks! :)
    jay sauser recently posted..…the gift and the giver…

    • Just so you know…nearing the end of your 30s isn’t as bad as you think. It hurts a little and you start running out of room for ointments, but other than that it’s not too bad…
      Paul recently posted..I am a Hypocrite

  9. In 10 years, holographic television will be normal for almost every Western home; housing construction will include being “wired in” for all our electronic devices and there will be a new kind of cancer as a result of all the wi-fi. Payments for goods & services will be “voice-activated”.

    I agree about the house churches, with the exception of the mega churches which will still exist but will become more and more like the 3-Cell church in China.

    Evil will abound, but the Spirit of God even more. Evangelical and Charismatic churches will no longer be separated by ‘us and them’ mentality.

    Islam Sharia law will be established in 60% of the world, not quite in America but moving that way.

    Social justice will be the catch phrase of the next decade and laws will be established to make people care more (unfortunately love doesn’t work under force). We will have less freedom, not more because our own self-regulations – trying to fix social problems from the outside, rather than true transformation.

    On the outset, it will look like chaos – much like when I’m cleaning and organizing my house. It looks messy but in the end, it’s more orderly than it was when I started. The church will be like that and I have no fear for the future. Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. Jesus promised to return for a bride that is pure and spotless – the ones that call themselves believers will be pure and spotless. I am looking forward to that day.

  10. And I predict that Chuck Norris will still defy death and stay alive. The denomination thing is right on…in 10 years will hold funerals for the Lutherans as well.

  11. I just hope that 10 years from now you will still be blogging!

  12. I agree completely with your suggestion that older denominations will become true dying relics and that new denominations will spring up (Acts 29 Network, house church networks, etc).

    I think the house church situation will coincide with a greater retreat of the church…the true church. I certainly don’t mean to be a doomsday prophet, but I think the church will be, as an organization, more relegated to meaningless tasks and a desperate attempt to stay needed. Unfortunately, people’s attitudes toward the church will grow worse, particularly with the gay marriage issue. It’s going to be an interesting 10 years.

    And I think Jesus may come back.
    Dan Smith recently posted..Supporting Military Spouses

  13. As a clergy in the United Methodist tribe, I see the denominational issue a bit differently. I agree that the mainlines will continue to decline, but they’ll not go away. They will however change radically in their ecclesiology and polity. In Missouri, Kansas and Texas (at least) the denomination is experimenting with house churches and neo-monastic communities.

    Your Jefferson quote can be applied to the church, as well. Methodism was born out of reform; I know enough young clergy and laity to believe the possibility of reformation/revolution is in our near future, and an exciting time it will be!
    Kurt recently posted..Kurt Boemler

  14. “What do you think the next ten years will hold in religion, politics, technology, culture, or entertainment?”

    Religion: Jesus will still be the truth. People will still twist it to fit their motives.

    Politics: will still be crap

    Technology: Maybe we could hit light speed?

    Culture: I think people will try to marry trees, or something sick. The arts will get to a point that we LONG for the days of Lady Gaga and look at Spears as Puritan music.

    Entertainment: See Culture
    Jason recently posted..“Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index” By Thomas Nelson

  15. Matt…very insightful. I hope your prediction about Islam is correct. With the willingness of the radical elements to kill people so mercilessly, what you predict would be a relatively mild and simple fate for Europe. I used to wonder how it would be possible for the kingdom of the Anti-Christ predicted in Revelation could be so brutal. But as radical Islam continues to spread, I see an ideology that is willing to kill infidel Christians for being merely that–Christian.

    I pray that Islam will only be a demographic and economic challenge for Europe, and not an existential threat for everything not under Sharia law.

    Quickly on your comments about the Church. I agree that the mainline denominations are dying out. But the shrinking size, while it does generate a sense of urgency, is not overly concerning. It has always been the narrow path that few will find. If you’re on the broad path with many people, I’d recommend checking your moral compass (or the moral GPS in your contact lens in about 2015). It is HIS Church and size doesn’t matter.

    God Bless You, Friend. –Paul
    Paul recently posted..I am a Hypocrite

    • One additional thought on homosexuality in our culture. How the DoD deals with the repeal of DADT will be precedent setting for our culture. Instead of voters dealing with the issue, DoD policy heralded as precedent to set a national standard. The military has become the social experiment that will drive the debate into policy.
      Paul recently posted..I am a Hypocrite

    • I had not thought about Islam being a positive change in Europe to guard against the radical elements, but I am with you that I’m not overly concerned about denominations shrinking, morphing, or closing. Everything built by human hands is temporary. What is permanent is the Church.

  16. I pretty much agree with all you said Matt.

    Religion: Will take two roads (always has). One of sort of a main stream acceptable sort of thing. Sort of Anne Rice. The bible will mean less; 70% or Americans already trust their own thoughts more than the good book. The New Christianity will eventually be atheists feeding the poor.

    The other road will be those that still care about the word of God. We are going of see a resurgence of supernatural gifting. These will probably be smaller churches. The days of huge churches are numbered. It will just take longer in the south than the north.

    Politics: We’ve seen our best days. No matter what happens in 2012, we are headed for being under the power of the UN or something like it. 10 years feels about right.

    Technology: This always moves so slowly. I was in on the ground floor of the WWW in the early 90’s. Acceptance takes a long time. Google is the new king, and MS will be a has been. Apple will continue until Jobs is done.

    Evolutionists may in fact be able to genetically engineer horse-giraffes, and rabbit-cats, but that doesn’t mean that God didn’t create the universe.

    Islam: Well for Pete’s sake, we can’t preach the Gospel there, so they are coming here! Start preaching the Gospel!
    David recently posted..The Best of Fire and Grace 2010

  17. “the church will go one because Jesus is it’s head”
    Great words, Matt and a great way to put things in perspective.

    I wonder if, in an attempt to stem rising healthcare costs, the government will ban all fast food restaurants, county fairs, the manufacture of cookies, candies, ice cream, hot dogs and any form of chips. People will have to show up in government-run P.E. Centers for their daily exercise and food will be distributed based on acceptable mix of fat and calories.

    In another 10 years, I will be closer than I really care to be to receiving an AARP discount, I will have only one child still in school, though more might stl be living at home.

    Another prediction is that we will be ten years closer to Jesus’ return, If it hasn’t already happened.
    Wouldn’t THAT be nice?

    Happy New Year!

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Glynn Young and Wes Molebash. Wes Molebash said: RT @MattTCoNP: My predictions for the next 10 years for the church, America, culture, and entertainment. http://wp.me/pSZSu-oq […]

  2. Things to Come | joshboldman.com - December 30, 2010

    […] today, I read this rather insightful post by Matt @ The Church of No People, and it got me thinking about what the next ten years might look […]