Why It’s Time To Click The 'Install Updates Now' Button On "Church"
After three months of unprecedented disruption and changes many predicted that things would be settling down by now and church as we know it would be back to normal. But that's not happening.
Ministry leaders are now faced with the fact that many aren't returning because of fear of contracting the virus. They're concerned about the cost and attention now needed to ensure the proper sanitation and cleaning of a church building.
Many have voiced their concerns about the difficulty of worshiping with a mask on and maintaining social distancing.
Then there's the restriction on the number of people that can be in one room at the same time.
What you're not hearing about is the number of leaders who have lost their ministries and their lives to the virus. The number of leaders who have stepped down or are considering stepping down because of the massive changes and emotional stress brought on by the Coronavirus shutdown. The list of issues is long and patience is running thin.
“It’s amazing to me that despite the fact that virtually every thought leader and business leader I’ve read or have personally spoken to believes that the crisis is a disruption, not an interruption, a surprising number of church leaders still think of the current crisis as merely an interruption.” Carey Nieuwhof
From weeks of COVID-19 disruption and shutdown to riots and protest due to racial conflicts, the body of Christ is living in uncertain times.
Even as places of worship begin to reopen, (only 14% nationwide) the latest Barna data, suggest leaders are seeing only 10 to 40% of their in-person attendance.
Let’s be honest, the decline in church attendance began 20 years before the Coronavirus outbreak.
In my digital resource, 10 Reasons Young Adults Are Checking Out of Your Place of Worship, I noted that 64% of young adults were dropping out of what was known as church before the crisis. This includes black millennials who were departing 'church' in comparable rates and speeds, as their white counterparts.
The sad news is many leaders knew this before the crisis and will continue to ignore this issue as they begin to reopen their buildings.
As much as you may not want to hear this, the pre-COVID church model is not as certain as it once was.
The Coronavirus shined a spotlight on what’s known as “Church.” Here is what it revealed.
- The majority of the current church models are simply cookie-cutter ministries influenced more by what is happening with ministries with larger platforms in other cities, rather than focusing on the needs of their local communities.
- The current church model is a breeding ground for those with a country club mentality. This is widely known and has overwhelming participation. It’s our church vs your church to the point that the building has become The God to many.
- The current church model invites and supports an inward-focused mentality. Preferring events and programs over souls, and a "come to us because we’re not coming to you," mindset. It’s a place where evangelism goes to die.
- The current church is Sunday only focused. Even as many begin to return to the buildings, their time, energy, and money are focused on preparing for Sunday.
- Your digital platform is a gateway for building relationships and connecting with everyone you want to reach.
- It provides a door to an audience that an analog experience can’t provide.
- It provides a window to reach people in ways traditional outreach can’t.
- It surpasses boundaries and barriers that an analog ministry can’t.
Guess what? Online/Digital ministry is real ministry. The building called "church" is no longer the default... Digital is.
Carey Nieuwhof describes this as churches shifting from being an analogy organization first, with a digital presence second, to a digital organization first, with an analog or building presence second.
Digital or online ministry isn’t going away, it’s a must. It’s changing the way the current and future "church" meets, from a designated time and place to anytime, anywhere, and sometimes.
This “pandemic”… The shutdown gave everyone a taste, and a chance to experience online ministry. Guess what? Everybody's not coming back to the building.
Going back to an analog model of ministry is like going back to the dark ages. Gal. 4:9 Something to consider as you return to your buildings.
The Coronavirus shutdown accelerated a trend that was already happening.
The body of Christ is currently witnessing and living in the midst of a new reformation. A digital reformation.
Just as Gutenberg's print press accelerated Martin Luther's reformation, the Coronavirus has accelerated the digital reformation of the “Church”.
Just as God did "a new thing", from the flood to His resurrection, it’s time to click the install updates now button on ministry/church.
Leaders, it's time for a new strategy and as much as you don’t want to hear this, those buildings called “church” will never have the status they once had.
Despite what has been taught for centuries in the western world, the church model that many are familiar with is not what Jesus intended.
Leaders, it’s time to re-think ministry. It’s time to do something new.
The Coronavirus shutdown was not a sign to reset what’s known as “church”, but a sign to rethink it and ask ourselves, is what we call church really what God intended?
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