As the speed of change heats up, what kinds of people will staff the churches of tomorrow? We posed that question at Group’s recent Future of the Church summit. Panelists gave some surprising answers:

Smaller staffs. William Vanderbloemen of the Vanderbloemen Search Group said churches will be spending more money on fewer staff people. And, part-time staff positions will replace full-time ones.

Children’s pastors in high demand. They’re hard to find, and they will “pay for themselves” through church growth, according to Vanderbloemen.

Multi-ethnic. As minority populations grow, church staffs will need to reflect the make-up of their neighborhoods. Currently, among Americans under 30 years old, only one in five is a white Christian.

Digital staffers. Churches’ online presence will become more crucial. Pastor Tim Peterson said his church recently conducted a funeral for an online church member who never entered the church building–until his funeral. And, Pastor D.J. Soto conducts virtual weekly services at his Virtual Reality Church. Members around the world strap on a headset and worship together–virtually.

Relational skills. Vanderbloemen said the effective church leaders of the future will be those “who play well with others.” Here’s a short soundbite from Vanderbloemen:

Emotional intelligence. Sally Morgenthaler of New Day Coaching and Staffing, said congregations increasingly “want leaders who know who they are.” She sees a growing demand for the “hybrid” staff person–someone who is decisive, nurturing, and emotionally aware. Morgenthaler explains in this soundbite:

Experience over information. Future effective church leaders will be less about teaching, and more about leading people through life-changing experiences. Soto said, “The Information Age is coming to a close, and the Experience Age is dawning.”

The world is changing rapidly around us. And the leaders of tomorrow’s churches may need a new skill set.