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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Surprises in Store

Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010, at 9:40 AM

It was early in the year 2000.

Garth Brooks had set a record for the most units of a release (CD) being sold in one week. Just a couple of weeks later, the Back Street Boys set a new record by selling more of their new release than had Garth Brooks.

And then, weeks later, N'Sync set the all time record of selling 2.4 million copies of their album ("No Strings Attached") in its first week of release.

The music companies were jumping for joy at the way in which they were raking in the money from the sell of new music releases.

Nearly ten years later, the total of all 200 top selling music releases for one week (in July 2009) was a lower amount than the 2.4 million sold of just one release in early 2000.

A lot has changed in the recording business in ten short years. And, who would have predicted such a seismic change during the "record" busting weeks in early 2000?

Who knows what the next ten years will bring in our daily lives, our geographical region, our nation, and our world? Yet, even in 2000 there were warnings and predictions about the effects new technology would have in the music business.

And in the field of spirituality? Here are my top five predictions for the decade ahead. Keep a copy of them and we'll compare notes in early 2020!

First, most mainline protestant denominations have an average membership age between 59-78. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the writing on the wall.

Second, there will be an explosion of new "Ma and Pa" type congregations of less than fifty members in churches that are owned by the pastor. This form of parish ministry works well until there is a conflict in the congregation.

Guess who leaves?

And, according to recent studies, most who leave permanently exit from any congregational life.

Third, the "mega-church" (over 2,000 members) phenomenon of the last twenty years needs prosperous givers who generously give financial support. These next ten years will see a decline in the ability (and maybe willingness) of the same type and amount of support. Just like incorporated schools that loose their tax support in geographical areas experiencing job loss, mega-churches are in trouble.

Fourth, the Roman Catholic Church in America will continue growing by three to five percent each year during this decade. Unlike most denominations with a more-than-fifty year history, they have successfully changed their style of worship and are attracting not only faithful young families but also new converts. They have successfully moved from their "hired priest" doing most of the ministry to the laity sharing in the responsibility of ministry to the local community.

And yes, there will be theological struggle with the election of the next Pope, but the American church will weather through the storm.

Fifth, the death of the Dalai Lama will cause great upheaval. Perhaps I will be greatly surprised but I don't see on the horizon another spiritual leader from the east whose works impact Americans of most spiritual traditions. And, I can only glimpse in part the tensions that will escalate in the Far East upon his death; indeed, these are the types of situations that can lead to great wars.

Of course, I may be wrong with all five of these predictions!

Finally, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Beatles sold the most copies of any one musical release during the last ten years! A release entitled "# Ones" was the best selling work of the past decade, music that was recorded nearly fifty years ago!

Such is the foolish attempt at anyone trying to make predictions about the next ten years.

And, of course, like a "faithful" lemming, I had to make my own!



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Sunshine for the Soul
Rev. P.T. Wilson
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.
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