It is exciting to see how rapidly things are beginning to shift for the COVID la...
This last month we had an in-person Presbytery Leaders meeting in Greenville, SC. It was life-giving for me to interact and engage with so many leaders face to face! In many ways it felt like a family reunion. That experience is increasing my excitement to be able to have our live National Gathering in Dallas next year. It seems that perhaps the viral component of the pandemic is coming to an end. Let’s continue to pray to this end and praise God!
I do think there are questions that the church needs to be asking itself coming out of COVID that will impact its future ministry. I pose three of those questions now as we think about what ministry will look like going forward.
- How can we enhance our disciple making efforts? I believe that COVID revealed the inadequacy of our disciple-making efforts. Early in the pandemic I heard dozens of pastors mourning the anemic discipleship that was present in their churches, the extent of which exhibited itself in blatant consumerist attitudes and immaturity in the way people treated one another who disagreed about race, politics, and even mask policies. We have too long assumed that sitting in church and attending bible study develops disciples. We need to recreate our disciple-making environments so that they continue to challenge people to live their faith in their unique contexts and provide spaces where we can truly sharpen one another toward maturity in Christ. My biggest plea is to ask you to consider if your environments are actually making disciples. If not, change them now!
- Is online church a backup or an intentional strategy? I have to admit that I wrestle with how online church should be positioned in the future. I get concerned that online worship can further breed a consumer mentality. I can watch the church that I want to watch, when I want to watch it, where I want to watch it, and that this mentality might further breed weak discipleship. At the same time, I have seen great things occur through an online platform that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred with only in-person church. People have come to know the Lord through virtual Alpha who probably wouldn’t have attended an in-person Alpha gathering. I have seen families with special needs children to be more present before the Lord in an online format than with the distractions that come with physical church. I have learned about “churches” planted inside of video games that built levels of authenticity within the community that I rarely see in the physical church (While I still have an abundance of questions about planting a church in the metaverse, I am encouraged to see some great things God is doing!). So the question for us is, “Are we going to view our online presence as a backup for people who aren’t able to make it to a physical church? Or are we going to be intentionally digital as well?”
- What are we uniquely called to be and do in this community? Just as every person is uniquely shaped by God and created for good works which He has prepared in advance, so the same is true for the local church. What we saw in the pandemic was that churches that had clarity about their calling were better able to make pivots that encompassed their mission. Their question wasn’t simply, “How do we put our worship services online?” But rather, “How do we fulfill our vision and embody our values even when gatherings look different?” While the pandemic is coming to a close this is a perfect time to ensure that there is clarity on the church’s vision and direction. Crystal clear clarity will allow churches to make necessary adjustments in their ministries during this time when there is the freedom to have flexibility.
I continue to pray that this summer is a time of renewal for your own souls and that there is an excitement about rethinking and reforming ministries to best fulfill our call to be flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.