Over the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to be in some meetings, conversations, and workshops that focused on what church planting, leadership development, and church multiplication might look like in the year 2050. The last of those conversations was in October of 2019. Based on the trends across the United States, there was a lot of excitement about what the future church was going to look like and what priorities church leaders might value most. There were multiple phone and video calls over the subsequent few months as partnerships were formed and Kingdom thinking expanded.
March arrived. To be quite honest, I thought it was the perfect time for the church to step up. I thought everything I had heard about the church of 2050 might happen by 2021. Church leaders began shifting on the fly. Even the leaders who would generally push every button and flip every switch before taxiing down the runway were leaning into the moment. They learned to build the airplane while taking off. In March and April, we heard a lot of talk around how the church was going to innovate, shift, and pivot. It was going to be the dawn of a new kind of church.
Not long after the pandemic began, it seemed like the air was slowly being let out of a balloon. Sure, the political and social climate took some responsibility for it. But mostly, I think we just got tired.
...We got tired of making videos each week.
...We got tired of preaching while staring into the nothingness of a camera lens.
...We got tired of fielding the constant questions about when we were going to reopen.
...We got tired of trying to keep staff members accountable for their jobs.
...We got tired of dealing with the financial stress of current realities and future possibilities.
...We got tired of trying to figure out how many people were “attending.”
...Add in the never-ending, never-relenting stress of putting together outdoor and/or indoor worship services with appropriate social distancing, and it’s enough to cause medical issues.
Case in point, I’m currently being treated for shingles!
I’m NOT saying that if you have already reopened, are reopening this Sunday, or have a date on the calendar to reopen, that you are lazy and are only trying to do what’s comfortable.
I AM saying that regardless of what reopening has looked like for you and your community, please do not lose the creativity that is intrinsic to being a creation of God Almighty!
If we are going to influence a culture and a society that is only trying to move away from the Gospel - and we’re not the only ones to ever minister in this type of world…the early disciples and apostles did it first - we have to continue to innovate:
- Stay innovative in utilizing online platforms to gather people for worship, small groups, games, encouragement, prayer, causes, and learning.
- Stay innovative on how to deliver Gospel content to teenagers in your community.
- Stay innovative about how to encourage and resource parents.
- Get more innovative about how to equip and empower people to minister to their neighbors.
God knew what he was doing with Hebrews 10:25 in that He didn’t define “meet together” (in person or online…or, in the future, holographically).
Leader, I implore you, don’t settle back into the comfort of simply having people come to a facility. Don’t settle back into the comfort of getting all of your previous activities and programs to resume.
Let’s not miss this opportunity.
And if you would value having someone to bounce ideas off of or be a fresh sounding board, let’s talk! We are here to serve you.