What a year it has been. It has been a humbling experience. Spring has arrived and with new life emerging, we too are emerging from the dark winter of a pandemic that we never imagined would occur. I am amazed at the ways in which our association churches have dealt with change during this time. But in order to fulfill our mission, we will never be able to go back to “normal.”
If we learn the lessons from this experience, we will be equipped for more effective ministry in the future. It appears that the 2020’s will be a roller coaster ride of challenges which will require adaptation, innovation, and creativity in order to fulfill the mission God has given us. Our post-pandemic world will also be a more non-Christian and possibly an anti-Christian environment. Church strategists agree that in order to effectively impact our culture in the future, we must consider these factors:
Church services will continue to reach more people than are present in the building. Ministries will have a hybrid in-person and virtual participation. On demand access will be more critical than online streaming. Gather the congregation, but this will continue to be an opportunity to connect with people who are not actively involved in church.
Churches and pastors will need each other’s encouragement, support, and cooperation as never before. Remember the biblical word for “fellowship” means committed partnership in ministry. It was not just a social gathering, but working together in a united purpose.
Churches will have to focus on the basics of life-changing discipleship to equip believers to faithfully stand for Christ and engage the culture. In a time of increased spiritual warfare, we must acknowledge an essential dependence upon a growing relationship with God which only comes through consistent Bible reading, prayer, and obedience.
Churches will have to be able to adapt and be open to change at a faster pace that we have experienced in the past. We will have to be focused on the mission of making disciples more than maintaining personal preferences and “meeting my needs.”
Personal relationships and ministry will be more important that maintaining buildings. Churches will have to focus on being the church daily in the community rather than just doing church on Sunday morning.
We will have to focus on a dependence upon the work of God and being sensitive and submissive to His leadership. This really means that we will have to become more like the New Testament church that lived out their faith through infiltrating the culture and caring for one person at a time through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Only a work of God in our midst will bring these things to pass. I believe He will use this pandemic experience and use us to accomplish His will. I was blessed as we sang these words in a worship service recently:
This is my Father’s world, O let me not ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world, The battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and heaven be one.