The Next Normal for Churches Post-Pandemic
The phases of reopening have begun to move at a more rapid rate depending on where you live.
Many organizations, not just churches, are asking the question, “What does the future hold for us after the shutdown?”
Consider this — within twenty-four hours, a vast majority of churches went from meeting in-person to sharing services on a digital platform. The shutdown revealed the possibility of a highly adaptable church. Small groups met on ZOOM. Attenders interacted more online. People invited their friends on social media.
Recently, the Blackbar Podcast shared an episode called “Casting Vision for the New Normal.”
The conversation put a microphone into many discussions happening in church leadership right now. The SWOT analysis provides an excellent framework for church leadership teams
One of the significant takeaways resources like this one includes — what a waist for the church to adapt so well in crisis only to revert to the old way of doing things.
I highly encourage you to listen to the podcast episode, especially as a church leader. As we engage a new and next normal for the church, I would like to provide a few areas to embrace as church leaders to caution us not revert into former habits and mindsets:
Embrace a larger digital audience and smaller in-person gatherings.
The old playbook subtly valued in-person gatherings than digital. Many leaders, including Nicky Gumbel from Alpha, have shared their insights into the power of meeting online. Click here for his podcast episode on Carey Nieuwhof. He shared the larger church attendance and how the Alpha groups he has led opened up faster in ZOOM.
If you go to a meeting asking for a large in-person event in the next few weeks, I think the question needs to be: “Why?” Our first idea needs to become how can this be digital. Let’s utilize Facebook groups and keep the dialogue going online.
On the same token, I think the value of smaller gatherings will arise. Digital informs in-person and invites people for dialogue. Brady Shearer put it this way below:
Embrace serving the community.
Churches rose to support hospitals, food shelters, and other local non-profits in their neighborhoods. A majority of phone calls I had during the pandemic asked, “What can I do to help?” This point holds for those inside and outside the church.
Rich Birch, in his book Church Growth Flywheel, discussed how service is the new outreach. The church can become the gathering place for the community to make a difference. The once large events for people to attend are now the opportunities to serve.
Embrace adding digital value to the surrounding community around the church.
Jeff Henderson wrote the book Know What You Are For. Before the shutdown, he shared examples of how the church he serves in Gwinnett, GA, highlighted the community around them. They embraced the hashtag #ForGwinnett. I believe the church needs to move from mostly talking about themselves to celebrating and supporting the community around them. Adding digital value to the community inspires the people in the church and reaches people outside the church.
Embrace the simplicity and complexity of inviting people to church.
It’s never been easier to invite someone to experience church. You can post on social media the live services. I believe that’s extremely valuable. The reason people have hesitated towards embracing inviting is they realize the complexity of sharing their faith in-person. As church leaders, we will need to equip people to have more faith conversations. The two prior points two also reveal to the outside world our motivation in the gospel, which only helps people invite others to church.
Embrace collaboration with other churches.
One of the things I loved from the Blackbar podcast was their discussion on churches learning to collaborate together. There’s a vast opportunity to come together for online resources instead of burning leaders out. We need to explore this more.
Embrace a dynamic ministry over static.
People fear change because often we feel that we lost something. I wonder how the church could transform in the next five years if we resisted static-ness and embraced a dynamic ministry. We might fail a little more, but we would find out more and probably reach more. Playing it safe will do more harm than good. Let’s remember this season when any solution was on the table. I believe the Holy Spirit was more at work than we realize.
What do you think the church needs to embrace in this next normal? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Originally published at https://peterenglert.com on June 12, 2020.