This morning a FB group I’m part of had an article shared on it that, being GenX, I was prepared to read this and roll my eyes 1. It was “Seven Trends To Watch in 2021.”

There are portions of the post with which I disagree, but I also understand the reasoning behind why they were made. I also believe the overall tone of the post is “pastor-centric,” which I find problematic. I understand that the post directed to pastors, but pastor-centric thinking is a significant contributing factor for why church communities have grown so weak over the years 2. And during a time of massive disruption it would addressing this elephant would be a wise idea.

Despite this, I felt this was decent post—even helpful in a number of ways 3.

I will nudge back a bit on this post’s fourth point , “Those who produce content daily will move ahead of those who do not.”

First, pastors and church leaders are already expressing the experience of “production fatigue,” so urging daily content without suggesting any real avenues this can be accomplished is a bit of a shovel of dirt over folks. Also looking at the number of daily streamer who burn out after a few years 4, this is probably not a great model to emulate.

Second, it’s missing the importance of authenticity by suggesting that produced on-demand content is really what matters. Don’t get me wrong, I love making on-demand produced content, especially live streams. I don’t do this as much as I’d like, because I’m wired to enjoy this sort of interaction, but it’s hard to find time when child care for a 2 ½ year old is my real full-time job at the moment ⁠5. Providing real connection through authenticity, which is one of the points in the post, is a better way to view this path. These connection points can include produced on-demand stuff, why limit ourselves to doing this? It can also be done through social media posts, blogs, photography meditations, or even an asynchronous discord chat in lieu of the dreaded scheduled zoom bible study. Authentic connection with people as a ministry imperative is not about amount of content we produce, that’s the call of the algorithm. Shaping avenues of connection is about deliberate authentic presence among human beings. And, a lot of times, leaving a comment on something folks from your community have shared creates real connection every bit as well as being a constant producer.

Many of the trends identified in the post are real. A few of them are problematic. But don’t read them and load yourself up with more weight. Be you, whatever venue you’re in, and let connections form.

1 The group is called “ABC-USA Young Adult Pastors,” and my presence in it is becoming more and more ironic as time rolls on. I’d leave but… irony is kinda my thing.

2 It’s one of the reasons I try to avoid saying “My church” or talking about “My ministry.” I’m just an office-holder, not an owner.

3 Mostly by reminding people, “If you think ‘normal’ is coming back any time soon, splash your face with cold water and wake up to reality.

4 Check out this YouTube search on YouTuber Burnout.

5 Well, 2 ½ days a week.