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Have you heard the old saw, the only constant is change? Well, it seems that’s true, for social change continues at an unprecedented pace, and this means more spiritual opportunities if we’re ready to respond.

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #104 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

Trends have always interested me, trends in about anything really. Of course, none of us are omniscient, so predictions and prognostications are to be taken with a grain of salt at best.

Someone once said, “I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, and I have rarely made a profit” and that’s the case for me. I’m not a prophet, the son of one, and as a guy who’s worked with nonprofit organizations all my career, I’ve not really focused on the profit-motive either.

But other experts and pundits have much to say about tomorrow’s trends. My interest here is in trends that may present new challenges and opportunities for Christian ministry.

Rapid social change is a given, and the speed with which things now change has certainly increased. People used to talk about “long-term planning,” which gave way to “strategic planning,” which gave way to “scenario planning,” “continuous planning” or “multi-year outlooks.” The idea of the latter is to create an “evergreen” or “living plan.”

Back in WWII, General Dwight Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Planning is not ipso facto a lack of faith, nor is it necessarily a presumption upon faith. Planning is simply an activity that attempts to use the brains God gave us, study the world in which we live, and make decisions about what might be our best options for accomplishing our goals.

Identifying trends is part of planning.

Trends are broad movements, social, economic, demographic, etc., that give us a clue about what might be happening around the corner, and since none of us can see around corners, having a clue can be helpful.

So, in terms of global Christian ministry, what trends might we be thinking about?

Some of this we’ll borrow from our friends at Missio Nexus.

  1. Immigration– Only 3.2% of the world’s population are living in a country other than their birth country. But still, that’s 218 million people, a small number compared to billions. Many of these immigrants are coming to the United States. 

I have always been “pro-immigration,” so to speak. We are a “nation of immigrants” after all. My pro-immigration attitude presupposes legal immigration, which is decidedly not what is happening on our southern borders where several million people have come across in the past three years without the benefit of legal process. 

But politics is not our topic here.  Mission trends are.

Immigration to the United States fits something called “diaspora ministry,” the idea that as people disperse across the globe, they are coming to our shores, our towns. We don’t have to go to them in the old-style missionary-couple-goes-to Africa way.

So, the question becomes, how will American churches react to this spiritual opportunity?

  1. I. or Artificial Intelligence.This new form of machine learning and generative text software is rapidly increasing in applications, power, and potential. Some large Christian nonprofits are already using A.I. to help them do a kind of “triage,” wherein the A.I. tool analyzes contacts from thousands in mere seconds, then categorizes them based on needed response, including which ones need an immediate human counselor contact.

The point is not to offload spiritual responsibility to computers but to use A.I. to make possible an expanded ministry.

SAT-7, the Middle East/North Africa Christian satellite broadcasting and online ministry with which I serve is presently evaluating A.I. tools that could possibly amplify our ability to share Christian truth and the Gospel throughout that vast region.

  1. Population Shifts. This is related to immigration and also to in-migration, the movement of peoples within their own country.

Entire towns and villages in Eastern Europe are already in massive decline. People are fleeing these places for more populated areas. 

In the next fifty years, China will undergo population implosion at a rate never seen. “(This) population decline is partially a result of China’s one-child policy, which for more than 35 years limited couples to only having one child. Women caught going against the policy were often subject to forced abortions, heavy fines, and eviction.” 

Because Chinese families usually wanted male offspring and took steps accordingly, now in Chinese cities there are tens of thousands of young men with no real prospects of ever finding a wife. There are simply not enough women. Not enough opportunity to form relationships and go forward.

Young men who have no ability to find companionship often ban together an do a whole lot of not so good things. It is difficult at best. 

The ruling Chinese Communist Party is now trying to alter this plan, but it’s probably too late. Playing God is never a good idea.

  1. Continued division and dysfunction in the US Church. Clearly, American culture, and the Church, is struggling, or more than struggling, is in serious trouble.

Moral relativism, sexual and gender confusion, ideological social justice with its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion distractions, pronoun craziness, “love wins” heresy, end-of-the-world climate change hysteria, even leftist nihilism have found their way into churches, denominations, Christian universities, and Christian nonprofits.

The US church is now experiencing a kind of secularization, reversing itself with the growth of the “Nones” – No Religious Preference – and the inability of the Evangelical church to pass its faith on to the sons and daughters of the current generation. If you don’t believe me, review some of George Barna’s research.

Evangelical leadership is mostly Baby Boomers, my age bracket, and they are exiting. In their place, we have few obvious leaders who can step in and take up this mantle. 

The non-Western missionary movement’s largest funder is the US. What happens when this funding goes away?

Our institutions are crumbling, leaving us vulnerable and aimless. It’s this general decay of authority, along with ideological passions, that makes our public culture seem so dysfunctional . . . for the most part the West is frustrated, cynical, angry—and hysterical. 

We see the disintegration of social forms and the atomization of individuals. Today, a young person is more likely to be formed within the fluid world of social media than by traditional institutions.

Those who draw upon metaphysical truths no longer wield establishment power. Media, universities, foundations, and other institutions denounce us as ‘fearful of change’ at best, and more often as ‘haters,’ ‘homophobes,’ and other moral monstrosities.

American Christians no longer live in a culture that reinforces Christian faith. We live in a postmodern, post-Christian culture that is moving daily farther and farther away from a worldview rooted in Christian values.

  1. Christianity is growing more in the global South than in the North. Christianity is growing the fastest in Africa (2.77% growth) and Asia (1.50%). 

In 1900, twice as many Christians lived in Europe than in the rest of the world combined. Today, more Christians live in Africa than any other continent. By 2050, Africa will be home to almost 1.3 billion Christians, while Latin America (686 million) and Asia (560 million) will both have more than Europe (497 million) and North America (276 million).

God is still in charge.

The Old Testament Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  

In the Old Testament Malachi 1:1, God says, “‘My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So, whatever happens in the future, God will be there.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023     

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