The future of the church at this point in history is not a logical extension of the church that I know from my past. I know this from my experience with Shepherd Community back in 93-95. We were developing something new as we were doing it. We did not have a predetermined plan for reaching all of Houston. Oh some did, but it did not pan out that way. We were just trying to figure out how to do it together along the way. In some ways, we had more "right" than we knew. But we got entrapped by the numbers game. We thought we had to be growing and multiplying to be effective in our vision and since Ralph Neighbor was a part of Faith Community in Singapore which was then about 6000 people, we thought that if were not a significant number of people that we were not a valid movement of people within the Shepherd Community vision.
I am not saying that we had it all together. In fact there was much that was problematic. But we knew how to do community, how to support one another, how to be in one another's lives.
But we thought we knew the end, the picture of what the church should look like, i.e. lots and lots of small groups multiplying all over Houston. I feel that in many ways we missed the point. We missed what God was doing because we assumed that he would work in a different way.
Now this kind of future prediction is happening in other ways: flat organizations, organic networks that share a DNA, house churches, de-institutionalization, determining a church's unique calling, etc. It seems that we are overrun with experts who are good a predicting the future of the church and providing a formula for churches to enter that future.
But Luther did not know how to be the church after the Reformation. He could not predict what the church in Germany would look like. He had to simply step out on the bridge and begin to build it as he walked.