Leadership isn’t only about reacting to what happens, but it’s, more importantly, about anticipating what will likely happen. But how do we do that?

Even more, how do we as church leaders avoid the allure of the pendulum swing when it comes to ministry strategy? How do we navigate a rapidly changing world that will likely introduce a new disruptive technology in the next twelve months that may help or hinder engagement in the local church?

The first, and most important, step is to be rooted in the Scriptures in everything we do. We must be biblically rooted and biblically aware.

The second step is to be aware of the trends and topics that have had the attention of church leaders in the last twelve months. Why? Because through this we can ask a few questions of ourselves:

  1. Are these the things we need to be putting our attention on or is there something more important?
  2. Why are so much time and attention going to these topics?
  3. What are we possibly missing as we anticipate the future?
  4. Who is going to shape people’s thinking on these missing topics?

With all that said, let’s dive in.

3 Top Things Church Leaders Were Thinking About in 2017

1. Cultural Engagement

This topic is a little hard to nail down at first because it can mean an assortment of things. What I’m seeing, though, is that church leaders were thinking and talking about cultural engagement in a few different ways.

  1. Christian celebrities sharing their faith
  2. Navigating how to share the gospel with the LGBTQ community
  3. Christians being of the world and not simply in the world – a call to reflection and repentance

The common thread in these can be summed up in one word: influence.

Namely, who is doing the influencing? Church leaders love seeing Christian celebrities be unashamed of their faith, they want to see people in the LGBTQ community come to faith, and they want to protect their congregation from allowing the culture to influence them.

One of the biggest questions church leaders should be asking and praying through is this: how can the church be empowered and equipped to engage culture with the gospel?

Want to read some of the most popular articles in cultural engagement across the internet? Check these out:

2. Guest Engagement

Church leaders, of course, don’t want people to simply attend a gathering once and never return. Instead, we want to see people get plugged in, stick, and become a part of the family.

But how can we do our best to not only welcome people but also go the extra mile to leave a lasting impact?

One of the biggest questions church leaders should consider when thinking about guest engagement is this: is there something we can do better to engage with people who are at our church for the first, second, and third times?

Want to see some helpful content on this topic? Check these out:

3. Church Change

Many, many church leaders are navigating the rough waters of bringing change to congregations that haven’t changed for decades. Whether it’s updating facilities, switching strategy, changing worship style, or getting rid of the pulpit, church leaders are wanting to know how they can bring change successfully.

Congregations that are aging and not reaching younger people want to change, but a lot of times they are resistant once the changes begin. So how do the leaders pastor their people through change?

Odds are, you’re asking these questions, too.

Here is some helpful content on the topic:

What’s Missing?

As we anticipate 2018 and beyond, what do church leaders need to be thinking about?


Brandon Kelley is a pastor at The Crossing on the east side of Cincinnati. He is the managing editor of Ministry Pass, co-founder of RookiePreacher.com, and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons. You can connect with him on Twitter @BrandonKelley_