You may have heard. This past week, Andy Stanley announced that North Point Community Church is suspending in-person services for the remainder of 2020.
That's right. North Point will not hold in-person services for at least another five months.
At least one other large church (Crossroads in Cincinnati, OH) has also made this announcement. I expect others will follow.
So... seriously… what WAS Andy thinking?
According to Andy, it's pretty straightforward.
He's looked at what's happening in his community with COVID, surveyed the people in his church, and determined how to best allocate ministry resources.
COVID cases are currently on the rise in the Atlanta area. Multiple congregational surveys have shown the number of people that said they were comfortable returning was trending downward. And when Andy saw other churches in the area that had already returned to in-person services only seeing about 20-30% of people returning, he decided (with the help of his leadership team) that it wasn't a good use of resources to return too early.
But it really came down to this: How will North Point steward their limited time, staff, and resources during this unique time?
Here's how Andy put it:
"As a local church, we have limited time, limited staff, and limited resources. And to focus our staff, time, and resources on creating a sub-par environment on Sunday mornings for a 9:00 and 11:00 service that only 20% of the people may attend... Why would we focus (our time, staff, resources) on the 20% that will probably show up rather than focusing on the 100% of all of our church folks, and their friends, and the rest of the world that may show up later?"
This is a decision that most church leaders are contemplating right now.
Here's what North Point is doing for the next six months:
Andy said that they are going to spend "100% of our time and energy creating community online... The church is not closed; we are just reallocating assets to actually impact the maximum number of people during this crazy time and during this crazy season.”
Is this the right decision for every church?
Of course, you need to make decisions for your church based on your local situation.
But Andy's decision has great influence on what other leaders will consider.
Here are the two main takeaways:
- Online church is NOT going away. The fact that North Point is planning on spending all of its energy in the next six months learning how to best create online community is confirmation that online ministry is sustainable and valuable. And many churches will make this a major priority for the remainder of 2020.
- Every church needs to reconsider how they allocate their time, staff, and resources (budget). In fact, every single church I've talked with in the past months is reallocating their time, staff, and resources in one way or another.
Regardless of when your church decides to start up in-person services (many of you already have), now is the time to determine your church's future.
We can help in a small way with three different free resources to help you think through your church's online model/strategy moving forward:
And if you really want to dig deep into the pivots your church will need to make in the coming months, we are hosting two online labs:
The Online Church Strategy Lab walks your team through a virtual model's essential elements to help you move forward with greater confidence and clarity. During the 7-week Lab, our team will guide you through a process to select and build out the ideal digital model for your church, evaluate online staffing needs based on four key roles, walkthrough budgetary considerations, and conduct a gap analysis to help you move from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. You can get more information here.
The Staffing Realignment Lab is a 6-week experience designed to help your church identify fundamental strategic shifts for the coming season of ministry, determine what implications those shifts have for your staffing model, and create a new staffing strategy that will support your mission and goals. We'll walk you through a process to help you think through organizational priorities, structure changes, financial realities, and staffing decisions. Your team will walk away with a new staffing model and action steps to help you move from where you are now to where you want to be in the coming season. You can get more information here.
We want to help you, however we can! Hit reply to this email (or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions about church online or let me know your most significant learning over the past few months. I'd love to hear from you!
PS - Ed Stetzer also has a great interview with Andy. You can listen to it here.