A fair warning: I’m likely the worst prognosticator in the world. Just ask President Pawlenty. And yet here I am making predictions for 2014, well, just because this is what writers do. So without further fanfare, my picks for 2014:
1) After a year (2013) of religious liberty setbacks, this will be the year religious liberty wins in the courts. This is not just a left-right issue, but also a constitutional issue. I think the Supreme Court will strike down the HHS mandate in a win for religious organizations and businesses.
2) Peyton Manning will win his second Super Bowl, leading the Denver Broncos to a narrow win over the Seattle Seahawks. This year will further bolster Manning’s case as one of the greatest QB’s to play in the NFL
3) There will be two or three major controversies that will continue to divide the Christian blogosphere. Some will fan the flames for continued blog traffic, platform building or fundraising. Others will issue cliched appeals to harmony, unity, and getting back to important work, like instagraming every meal. And a few smart influencers will offer thoughtful and original reactions.
4) A pop culture icon will do something crass, foolish, or vulgar (or all three) allowing regular people to feel better about themselves.
5) Southern Baptists will continue to quietly serve as the third largest disaster relief operation in the world, but nobody will notice.
6) No Chicago sports teams will win a championship. The Cubs’ 100-year plus rebuilding project will continue at its glacial pace, the Bulls will me a mediocre-but-not-elite team without Derrick Rose, the Blackhawks will take a year off from winning championships, the White Sox will continue to have no plan, and the Bears will rise and fall on the health and maturity of their quarterback, Jay Cutler.
7) Evangelicals of my generation and younger will continue to try to be cool and Christian with less and less success. As the stigma of radically following Christ pushes against cultural winds, many will run for the high ground of acceptance and eschew courage.
8) Political parties and activist groups will tell us again (without irony) that the 2014 midterm election is the most important of our lifetime. This will lead some to fevered and worried anticipation, others to involvement, and others to apathy.
9) Dr. Russell Moore will continue to grow in influence among those trying to apply the gospel of the Kingdom to current culture. His winsome voice will help younger evangelicals think through difficult moral and ethical issues and key institutional leaders will continue to seek his advice on evaluating and making policy.
10) Some will continue to wring their hands at the decline of the Church’s influence and power while quietly, the gospel will advance in cities around the world. A burgeoning gospel-centered movement to church plant in the worlds’ biggest population centers will slowly transform whole neighborhoods, boroughs, and even whole cities. Small town pastors will continue their faithful gospel work. And Jesus’ promise to build His church will continue unabated by other factors.
11) People will continue to demand content in a variety of platforms. Reading of online content on smart phones and iPads will increase. The desire for magazine-style journalism on digital devices will increase. And the consuming of e-books will level off but not drop off as readers appreciate the complimentary nature of both digital and analog.
12) Smart, young, conservative evangelicals will continue to quietly make their mark in leading cultural and political institutions. Christian colleges and seminaries will keep churning out committed, well-read, world-shapers eager to contribute to human flourishing in their generation.
13) The color of the Church as we know it will continue to change. The embrace of intentional racial diversity by the evangelical church, rapidly changing North American demographics, and changing attitudes about race will continue to bring Sunday gatherings closer to John’s vision of the Kingdom in Revelation 9.
14) Bloggers will continue to blog about Mark Driscoll, even if there is nothing left to talk about. No explanation needed here, really.
15) The prolife movement will continue to make gains, both in public attitudes, in state-by-state legislative remedies, and in the heroic work of countless crisis pregnancy centers around the world. The outrage of abortion on demand will continue to prick the American conscience.
16) Dr. Russell Moore will continue to mock me for calling Diet Pepsi “pop” instead of coke. And I’ll continue to stand out as a Midwesterner among southern gentleman here in Nashville.
17) Tim Keller will continue to churn more awesome books than I have time to read.
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