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I've tried to find silver linings in the midst of this pandemic, but most of the time, all I see are clouds and more rain. It's not that I don't believe God can use this season to strengthen the church and ultimately for his glory – I'm just so tired of waiting, wondering, and coping.  

Nonetheless, it appears that an end is in sight. And our natural tendency is to get back to normal as soon as possible: back to gathering on Sundays with preaching, worship, and kids' ministry; back to small group meetings and youth group.  

However, I fear we won't just get back to normal, but we'll return to the same-old, same-old. Despite what I said before, the pandemic has given you an incredible opportunity to rethink, reimagine, and renew your church's ministry. After all, how many times have you thought, “If only I could hit the 'restart' button” or, “If I could do it all over again, I would ________?”  

Well, this is your opportunity! NOW is the time to reimagine what your church could look like and to do so BEFORE the pandemic ends.

It's time to think like a church planter.  

The typical church planting journey includes a season of Holy Spirit-inspired dreaming about what could and should be – and then the hard work of figuring out how that vision will translate into reality. Almost every church planter realizes that how they start sets the foundation for the future and, in many respects, sets the trajectory for years to come.  

This is true for you and your church as well. Most ministries and activities have stopped altogether, and if there was a time to introduce change, this is it. Most people aren't expecting things to go back to business as usual and expect things to be different. More importantly, how you restart when the restrictions begin to lift will determine what the church will look like and what it will do post-pandemic.  

Here are some things to consider: 

  • How will we disciple people? The last few months have taught us that true discipleship is not only about church attendance, volunteering in ministry and giving in the offering. Have you established a clear discipleship pathway, and how will you disciple people in-person and on-line more effectively?
  • Do we need to think more about community engagement? It has become clear over the last year that the church is uniquely positioned to serve its neighbourhood and beyond in practical ways. Responding to food insecurity, a lack of community volunteerism and a new awareness of local community needs have given the church incredible opportunities to serve. 
  • Is now the time to change our worship style? To some degree, your worship style is dictated by the skill and preferences of your volunteers. But if you have wanted to introduce new songs, drop worn-out choruses (or hymns) or refocus your approach, start the conversation with your leaders before your first public service.
  • How will I establish a sustainable pace? If you weren't feeling tired before the pandemic hit, you're probably exhausted now. Before you restart in-person gatherings, find time to recharge and refresh – and establish new rhythms that will sustain your spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental health over the long run.  

Church planters think about more than just these four things before they start a new church – so there's so much more to consider before the restrictions lift. If you want some help rethinking, reimagining, and renewing your ministry strategy, I'd be glad to help you think through these issues. You can reach me by email (len@bc.paoc.org) or by calling the District Office.