Who could have anticipated all the changes and crises of 2020? The COVID pandemic that has caused many to become sick and even die. Schools have been canceled, restaurants closed, churches limited in meeting together. Added to that are the cultural issues of racism and social upheaval. And now the raging forest fires and debilitating smoke. (Don’t forget the murder hornets!) Someone asked, “which chapter of Revelation are we in?”
I’m not sure we will ever get “back to normal”. And when we do, I’m not sure what normal will look like! That means what we do now is incredibly important for the future. During this time, there are a few things every church must know.
The current crises are pulling the church in many directions. However, we must remember why we are the church. The hope of the world is Jesus. Even as we reach out in our communities and address social issues, we can never displace the gospel. This is what sets us apart from well-intentioned social clubs or learned groups of academics–our acts of service are prompted by the love of Jesus at work in us and our learning is in service of the gospel. We are, after all, people of the good news.
We need to know how we are going to accomplish the why. The message cannot change but our methods must. One church leader commented that their church was in decline before COVID and wondered why they would go back to doing what they did before. Good question! This takes great courage and humble honesty. If we are courageous and humble, this is the time to consider our plans and programs.
I like the “clean slate” approach. Be willing to evaluate everything. We need to seriously ask what needs to stop and what needs to start. Review your budget: what needs to be increased? What can you eliminate or reduce? Consider job descriptions and rewrite them to best effect. (Task loads may have shifted as a result of our current circumstances so share the load!) Only keep doing what is fruitful and in alignment with your purpose.
The church is about people. Sadly, some people have decided to disengage with their church families. Who are you reaching? Who is still on board? Does your calendar or budget reflect this demographic?
Look for strategic partners. Churches need to come together within our communities. We need to be willing to even cross denominational lines in order to support and resource one another.
Where is ministry going to happen? Many of us have assumed that you need a building to have a church home. That isn’t necessarily true anymore. We live in an Amazon.com world, not a brick and mortar one. Even during this pandemic, we have seen how much the church can do without a building. As you decide the what and the who, consider the where, recognizing that it may be more about the format of delivery instead of a particular place.
BEFORE YOU GO
What other essentials would you add to this list? What essentials does your church need to focus on?
I’d love to hear from you!