Downsizing will be the coming decade’s biggest trend. Large companies have been doing it for a decade. Government claims to be doing it now. Families and individuals are next.
Not that families will start laying off unproductive teenagers or closing outdated houses, but that people will change their value system in the coming decade and terms like small, specialty and quality will be of greatest value.
For instance, the downsizing trend will affect housing. The notion that every succeeding house should be bigger and better will collapse, even among women. Boomers who are rapidly approaching the empty nest will quit asking “How much house can we afford”‘ and start asking “What do we really need?” This will radically alter the housing market in the next 20 years. Smaller, efficient, high-quality, zero-maintenance housing will sell at a premium.
The downsizing movement will affect shopping habits, too. Not that people will downsize from Grand Cherokees to bicycles, but you can bet an increasing number of people will start driving only two—perhaps even one—car per family. Malls and superstores will feel it especially as people devalue huge conglomerate shopping. In 20 years, today’s malls will be ghost towns worse off than small town downtowns. People will shop in smaller, easily-accessed specialty shops where the employees actually know something about the product and do not respond to every question with “Everything we have is out.”
And the downsizing movement will affect people’s jobs, too. As the huge population of Baby Boomers reaches 50, there will be an increasing number who decide to quit the “Rat Race” and switch to lower-paying jobs with higher lifestyle opportunities. Sure, many will still cling to their high-paying jobs, counting down the years until retirement, but they will be creatures of the past. The trend will be with those who take lower-paying jobs, move into smaller houses and use their free time off to act half-retired now while their companions wear out on the rat’s treadmill.
If this trend holds, it would be a radical departure for most Americans. For us (especially Baby Boomers), bigger has always meant better. But if small becomes a positive word—oh my—what might that mean?
But the real question is how this downsizing trend might affect the church. Will there be a corresponding downsizing movement in the church? Will some pastors actually take smaller churches and quit expecting to always “move up?” Will local churches cut out antiquated and useless programs and start focusing on a few quality specialty programs? Will we downsize the number of services in a week? Will we invent a time-efficient way to combine hobby/travel activities with the church? Will some churches drop plans for building mammoth shopping-mall type buildings and figure out a way to start a string of high quality “specialty shop” churches? What would a “specialty shop” church be like anyway? And, if the church downsized financially, what would we cut? And what would we do with the money saved? Is downsizing in our future, too, or are we immune to this trend? What do you think?
© Keith Drury, 2005.
You are free to transmit, duplicate or distribute this article for non-profit use without permission.
Keith Drury served The Wesleyan Church headquarters in Christian Education and Youth leadership for 24 years before becoming a professor of religion at Indiana Wesleyan University. He is the author of more than a dozen books of practical spirituality, including Holiness for Ordinary People, Common Ground and Ageless Faith. Keith Drury wrote the Tuesday Column for 17 years (1995-2012), and many articles can be found on his blog “Drury Writing.”
Keith Drury retired from full time teaching in 2012. Keith is married to Sharon and has two adult sons and several grandchildren. He is retired in Florida with Sharon and enjoys cycling.