Because we are living in a world that values busyness, money is no longer our most valuable possession. Time is the new currency. Honestly, money has become secondary for many people in the United States.
One illustration: Imagine your student comes home and they have two options for you as a parent. You can give $50 to a school project or two hours of your time. Which do you choose? Personally, I would give the $50, because I do not have two extra hours that I want to spend at the school.
Restaurants of all kinds are booming because we would rather pay than spend the time fixing a meal. In my area, mowing in the summer is becoming a big money-maker because of this concept. Cleaning businesses are growing as people don’t have time to clean their home. I could run this through dozens of businesses who are thriving because people would rather buy than use their time.
This idea is impacting you as an individual believer and the Church as a whole. Here are ten of the effects I see this is having on ministry.
1. Attendance Changes. People are attending Church less frequently not entirely because of a lack of commitment to Jesus and his people. It is because they have a few other good projects that are getting their time.
2. Volunteer Changes. The Church no longer has one person serve ten hours in volunteer ministry. Instead, there are now ten people who serve one hour.
3. Staff Changes. People are becoming more dependent on paid staff. Small Churches used to have one preacher and a handful of really committed volunteers. Now even small Churches have multiple paid staff to keep things running.
4. Discipleship Changes. I am finding it nearly impossible to get a small group of people to commit to a 6-8-week discipleship group of any kind. Anyone who signs up is now going to miss at least one or two of those weeks. Many ask if they can buy or download material to stay up with the group.
5. Preaching Changes. The Church must preach and teach about the stewardship of time more than money. Money is still significant, but not as much as time. I am currently planning a sermon series for next year on busyness.
6. Church Business Changes. It used to be that you could get a group of people together and have a work day. Those days are gone. Now our board is acting like a contractor to hire a company to do the work around the Church building.
7. Giving Changes. We now have people who use online banking and our online giving through the website. Several people attend infrequently but give regularly. They want to be a part of the Church, and they are using their money to try to do it.
8. Leadership Changes. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find people willing to give up the time to lead the Church. The gifted leaders are already leading numerous other community organizations. They simply do not have the time required to help move the Church forward.
9. Attitude Changes. People view the time they donate to the Church differently. It is another part of their duty as a good person. It is seen less as a chance to connect with people for a lifetime together in Jesus as them fulfilling another requirement on their time.
10. Future Changes. I am continually reading about how Churches are trying to adjust their ministry to meet the current view of time. How do we help people to see time with God as a priority? How do we get people connected to other believers? How do we help people grow spiritually? If this trend keeps going, the Church of the future will have very few methods that look like the past.
I understand that all these changes will change again in the future. A recession, a war or some other big societal change will come, and everything will shift again. For now, I am trying to adjust the sails of the Church I lead to catch the current winds of change. Not all of this is bad, most is just different, but if we do not prepare ourselves as a Church, we will lose our children and grandchildren to the changing times.