Image via WikipediaHappy New Year! The new year is a time of predictions, so I thought I'd add a few of my own predictions for religion in America for 2009. Here I focus on American church life.
10 Predictions for Religion in America 2009 (mostly focused on congregations and their leaders):
1. Rick Warren's inaugural prayer will continue to draw disproportionate commentary and criticism well into February.
2. Barack Obama and family will join a church in Washington, DC -- but the actual choice is not likely to draw much attention.Image by Getty Images via Daylifet likely to draw much attention.
3. The Evangelical Left will continue to define itself by promoting leaders, putting out books, creating networks, and defining theological stances on issues like environmentalism, homosexuality, globalization, church and sate relations, and international relations.
4. While public affiliation with the Religious Right among Christians will shrink, the overall commitment among this group will deepen and polarize.Image via Wikipedia
5. Church leaders get ready: With continued economic woes, Easter Sunday Services will draw even larger attendance than recent years. Churches will also see growth in membership, catechism classes, and baptisms for both children and adults.
6. "Need ministries" of all sorts will be stretched in new directions with lay offs, foreclosures, and bankruptcy continuing through the next year. Biggest adjustment? Financial crisis counseling for upper-class and upper-middle class members.
7. Since church donations are likely to decline, church services will be affected.
- Local churches will physically move services to lower-rent spaces if they currently rent pricey facilities;
- Churches with significant mortgages or maintenance needs will open their buildings to other (and more) churches as renters; and,
- We may see churches closing from lack of ability to pay on their buildings.
9. New church starts with funding will decline, but church starts without funding will rise. This will spur unanticipated innovations in how "church" works. And more pastors are likely to draw on income from other work beyond their church salaries.
10. Finally, developments in Israel, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia (and especially any religiously motivated terror attacks in the coming year) will continue to provoke discussions on religious tolerance and religious diversity.
What are your predictions?