Although no one other than God knows what the future holds in any comprehensive way, this does not release us from our responsibility to understand the forces that are shaping our future, or a commitment to plan towards it, in a more informed and creative way. On this side of eternity, Christians live in a perpetual state of the ‘now and the not yet’. We, more than others, are called to live in a state of preparedness/readiness for both the kingdom to come, and the life we live. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins also outlines the importance of preparedness and the consequences of the failure to act.
Church leadership in the 21st century, involves making numerous decisions about the future of ministry, frequently against a backdrop of rapid change and poorly understood but increasingly challenging circumstances. For example, at the beginning of the 21st century, a number of churches are either in decline or (by contrast), are experiencing significant numerical growth. Churches are facing major decisions as to whether to sustain or expand their present facilities, continue to minister in the same way, relocate to another community, disband or even sell their property and facilities. Austerity measures and declining budgets further compound these issues.
Critical decisions are also required concerning the future of mission, both in its narrowest and broadest sense. These range from appropriate approaches to evangelism in contexts of multiple ideologies, to the kind of activities we should be planning for and engaging with, in order to promote the well-being of our communities and society.