I am at that point in ministry (age 65) where just at the point when I think I have some idea of the rhythms of ministry and culture it is someone else’s turn! My basic response to future ministry challenges that will face Evangelicals is how complex the lay of the land is. In my younger years the options were fewer, the culture more friendly, and the Neo-Evangelical consensus of the Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga and Billy Graham variety was holding firm. The charismatic movement was making big inroads, the seeker sensitive movement was just beginning to gain some attention, and the role of women in the church was raising the temperature in all things ecclesiastical. Worship wars were in the infant stage, with Calvary Chapel spearheading contemporary music. Reformed theology had not yet hit critical mass outside of historically Reformed communities as it has now in the Young, Restless and Reformed movement. Theological debates were significant, as they have always been, but the rancor and sharpness of controversies were confined to smaller networks. Obviously, the internet has changed the landscape.
There is no one model or path that seems to have captivated the larger Evangelical movement. Diversity is increasing and theological differences are deepening. There are no Ockgengas and Henrys dominating the Evangelical consensus. Up and coming Pastors are having to make more choices than those I faced.
Stetzer’s take on the next ten years is here. I am wondering what the theological trends will be among Evangelicals. There seems to be a softening of hard lines and more openness to rethinking and/or restating doctrines that we thought were once for all settled – theories of the atonement, the historical Adam and Eve, sexual morality, and eternal punishment to name a few. I do think the YRR has seen its peak and will ride that for awhile until Arminians figure out how to wage theological battle and find a spokesman who can be their version of the likes of John Piper.