The 21st century church is in trouble! How to overcome its challenges

Let’s talk about challenges…

Challenges are not new to churches. In every century, the church always had adversities and this time isn’t any different. It’s important to know the main challenges and the possibilities to prevail.

Biblical illiteracy

The Bible by far outsold more than any other book, with a whopping 3.9 billion copies sold over the last 50 years. Did you know that even though people know the importance of the Bible, a large sum of them haven’t actually read it?

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A teacher called Thayer S. Warshaw quizzed a group of university-bound students on the Bible, in 2016. The quiz preceded a Bible as Literature course he planned to teach at the Newton (Massachusetts) High School, generally considered a top secondary school in the United States. Among the most astounding findings he got in his replies from the students were:

Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers.
Jezebel was Ahab’s donkey.

Some students thought that the four horsemen appeared on the Acropolis; that the New Testament gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luther, and John; that Eve was created from an apple and that Jesus was baptized by Moses… Seriously!

And I’ll tell you more: it’s 2018 and it has gotten worse. Everybody wants to save time and nobody wants to read anymore. So, one of the challenges of the 21st-century churches is to find new ways to communicate and teach the gospel. How can you do that? What about using visual elements? Graphics are processed 60.000 times faster than text. Try making visual presentations, doing a play and giving out new reading materials.


Technology is another challenge. The millennials live their lives through their smartphone and gadgets nowadays. Relationships became digital. There is no point fighting it, you have to embrace it and use it in your favor.

How about having a church app? More people will have access to the sermons/messages online, follow along and take notes. Technology enables members and attendees to enhance their discipleship experience at church. It also allows proximity even when they are away for some family and friends time or traveling for business. Another great tip is to be ALWAYS present in social media channels. Use them to communicate with your members, reach new people and help others live a more fulfilling life.


Another 21st-century characteristic is the fast-paced and harried lifestyle that led to short attention spans and easily boredom. Again, here’s the importance of visual elements. You should have appealing and beautiful materials that will ‘wow’ your followers and grab their attention for longer. Also, try to be as direct as possible and using simpler words.

Aversion to commitment

The millennials generation prefer to keep options opened rather than commit to something or someone. They are the generation that has rendered RSVP-based party planning a futile endeavor and they are less likely to be affiliated with a religion or a political party than previous generations were. So, what can you do?

Don’t force them to commit. Instead, provide them with an experience so wonderful and fulfilling that will make them come back the next day, and the day after and so on. Also, make the church relevant to your members’ life. As we mentioned above, social media can be a strategic and easy way to learn more about your followers’ needs and to make yourself present in their lives. But remember: you have to make the church interesting by telling stories, communicating in a simpler language and using visuals.

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