Recently, I heard someone say, “The pandemic hasn’t changed history, its accelerated history.” Their observation was about society in general, but it’s also true for the church. The change churches are experiencing is something we would have navigated sooner or later. COVID-19 just made it sooner than later.
Here are 7 accelerated changes the church must navigate today:
Acceleration 1: Increasingly, Mission Clarity is Essential to Survival
Most organizations surviving the pandemic are crystal clear about their mission and how that mission connects to people. Churches, too, must have total mission clarity. In this accelerated world, churches will not survive the headwinds if they possess only a modest passion or a vague sense of their “why.”
Acceleration 2: Increasingly, People are Either Completely in or Fully Out
A pattern is emerging that those who are committed to ministry are becoming more committed while those on the margins are leaving the church entirely. In this accelerated world, churches must work with a smaller dedicated core. The marginalized are becoming a new mission field.
Acceleration 3: Increasingly, the Church is Being De-programmed
The day of children’s ministries bursting at the seams and the day of packed mid-week programming for all ages was already waning pre-pandemic. Today it’s non-existent. In this accelerated world, churches must find new ways to engage faith-formation and people connection in a post-programmed world.
Acceleration 4: Increasingly, Hard Questions Cannot Be Ignored
Society is experiencing rapid attitudinal shifts related to race, gender, sexuality, earth keeping, neighbor care, etc. This rethinking has forced the church to grapple with its own perspectives and passions. In this accelerated world, churches must courageously reexamine core Kingdom values. It will not be easy.
Acceleration 5: Increasingly, Technology is the Driver of Mission
Most congregational leaders have figured out how to communicate using social media. Few, however, have learned how to harness the full capacity of technology for outreach and discipleship. In this accelerated world, high-impact congregations will engage disciple-making through technology.
Acceleration 6: Increasingly, Society is Saying “No” to the Church but “Yes” to Faith
There’s increased disenchantment with the church, especially among the young. Perceived inhospitality, judgementalism, duplicity and a lust for power have contributed to this disenchantment. At the same time there’s great interest in authentic faith. In this accelerated world, living the Jesus life must be central to all we do and teach.
Acceleration 7: Increasingly, Faith is Becoming Individualized
Social distancing has created a movement of individualization. People are assembling their own faith experiences through what they watch, read and listen to and they are choosing their own spiritual friend groups. In this accelerated world, churches must resource people’s faith journeys not dictate them. At the same time churches should reemphasize the importance of community for sustainable faith.