Like every pastor, there are times that I struggle with "the topic." I used to try to present a combination of series and stand-alone messages. I can remember that panicked feeling of working a month out and finding nothing just waiting to spring out! We want to make sure that we give that which comes directly from the heart and mind of God. We want to keep our teaching balanced so we don't become a single-issue pastor. I sometimes struggle with that issue as I prepare my article.
Today I considered writing about an issue that I've been studying – the biblical connection between authority and accountability. I may return to that topic in the weeks ahead, but instead, I want to talk about trending.
America is a trending culture. We love to know what others have discovered and are enjoying. It doesn't matter whether we like or enjoy it; if others have bought in, we will too! That's my only explanation for the rise of skinny jeans. During my lifetime, every generation has been led by the "Trenders." Today it may be skinny jeans, but another generation remembers parachute pants, cargo shorts, and bell bottom jeans! DO NOT look at my senior pictures! That leisure suit, silk shirt, and big blue tie .... that was an awesome combination!
It happens in the church world as well. We see that overstuffed chairs in the foyer are a big hit at the church down the street. Pretty soon we're shopping for chairs that have a little more stuffing than the other church’s chairs. The worship leader at the church across town uses a guitar; soon everyone on our worship team is playing a guitar. We are trenders. We want to know what works.
It is easy to make fun of the trends. Following the trends can be incredibly silly. For example, can you see me purposely wearing a pair of skinny jeans? Yeah, me neither.
However, following the trends can be incredibly important. Trending may help us understand what's happening in our culture and therefore what's happening in our congregations. One quick example can be found in missions giving. Today's generation wants to give to people and projects. They've decreased their giving to programs. Missions giving is focused on the recipients of the missions dollar. Today's generation finds it easier to give to the person digging a well in a foreign nation. The missionary working in an office to administer the digging of wells may find it harder to raise their support.
There is another value in observing trends. I believe that those who follow God will find that the Father operates with definite plans and strategies. Even the casual observer can see the different things that the Spirit of the Lord has emphasized during different seasons of the church.
Let me share something that I see trending in the church world today. I am observing a move back toward Pentecost. I see pastors emphasizing the move of the Spirit in their preaching. I see pastors teaching and correcting the move of the Spirit. I see a move back to the altar, spending time in pursuing the presence of God. More importantly, I see people wanting a GENUINE move of God. They are willing to invest in that which they believe to be prayerful, supernatural, and life-changing. I think the trend will be cemented when we see more people wanting to be on the prayer team than we see asking about the worship team. What trends are you seeing?