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Three predictions for ministry in 2021

While ministry is a broad category of society and the economy, the following are three predictions on matters of focus for NARTHEX.

1. Inequality will worsen

Economists still have divergent views on how things will play out in the coming months and years. But, the data is increasingly clear on the recent past, the present, and the near future, showing a “K-shaped” manifestation, where the well-to-do continue to do well while those disadvantaged Pre-Pandemic do even worse.

This will likely be reflected in how the Church is structured in that the well-to-do and disadvantaged will congregate largely separately. Ministry with the disadvantaged will more easily be seen as a matter of charity while the primary activities of the educated middle, upper-middle class of classes, groups, and seminars (that do not necessarily effect systemic impact and are commonly considered recreational) will continue.

2. Divergence will broaden

Ironically, at the same time, political and views otherwise will grow more divergent with no real signs of healing between the lines carved out in society, as evidenced by presidential approval ratings and the recent presidential elections.

The Church, often seen as the means of preserving the past as well as finding commonality in opinion, will provide community for people of largely similar views. Practically speaking, it will be increasingly difficult for a pastor or ministry leader to articulate messages of sharpness (whichever way such a message will swing) that upset a large proportion of the congregation.

But, this will only lead to a more apparently felt sense of power differential with more and more “minority” (either in power or number) groups seeing themselves as victims of oppression.

3. Church will show real, but not deep, signs of change

What the multiple orders of lockdown (however euphemistically named) and other dangers due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the emotionally charged instances of systemic racial oppression has led to is the Church becoming more used to worship services and other activities online and a sense of the growing need for (at least) dialogue on matters of race.

In the near term, these trends will likely continue and further questions raised as to why the Church has not behaved accordingly even before the pandemic.

However, the work of making deeper investments for change in the way the Church is structured and its definitions and expectations of discipleship and community has likely not taken place.

Thus, the opportunity will exist for ministry to step into a time of both great volatility as well as positive transformation.