What are some of the features of the future religious landscape?
The previous 15 or 20 years of prosperity (pre 2007) is giving way to a “new normal” of more austerity. Some congregations are exceptions to this story. Some whole parts of the country seem to be writing a different story (e.g., the Southeast). However, as a nation we are thinking through what it would mean for our children not to be able to afford to own the houses in which they grew up—literally and metaphorically. The latest census shows us moving into a world where a diversity of diversities—cultural and racial—is fast becoming the norm. And we now have growing up amidst us the first generation who are natives in a digital world.
It seems that the future promises more focus on authenticity and community and less on formality of structure; more focus on whole congregation approaches to social justice and faith development in preference to numerous specialized programs. Some see decrease in focus on membership and increased focus on looser forms of affiliation (e.g., Facebook friends). What would it mean for us to adapt creatively to these changed realities?
Recently Terasa Cooley, UUA Director for Congregational Life assembled some of her ideas on this in a presentation at Meadville/Lombard Theological School:
“Adapting to a Changing Religious Landscape”, http://prezi.com/lwfcuhtknwh-/copy-of-meadville-lombard-winter-presentation-1/
Terasa frames some of the changes she sees in a series of contrasts: Pews to circles; Anonymous to intimate; Attraction to mobilization; Full “seating capacity” to full “sending capacity”; Ordained ministry to ordinary ministry.