Many renewal leaders are looking for ways to emerge from the confines of COVID-19. This emergence has proven difficult for many (not all) congregations given the uncertainties of the pandemic, a lackluster return to in-person gatherings, a diminished pool of volunteers and a societal shift away from active participation in communities of faith.
A strategy that could help is the “one-thing” approach. A “one-thing” plan is investing in just one thing the entire congregation can rally around with fresh enthusiasm, shared vision and communal support. This “one-thing” must be inspiring, call believers to join God on mission, and be a community stretching investment. Additionally, it must provide ways for everyone to contribute. This “one-thing” can be refugee resettlement, creating transitional housing for single parents, developing a vibrant Alpha ministry, partnering with a local elementary school (including tutoring for “at risk” kids), creating an afterschool program for working families, supporting local businesses or a business district, developing a vibrant Sunday morning kids program, investing in Young Life at the public high school, providing a nourishing weekly meal for homeless and food insecure, investing in a prison ministry, nesting an ethnic minority congregation within your walls, etc. The possibilities for this “one thing” are endless.
Here’s how to identify the “one-thing”:
Identifier 1: Name Passions
Most renewal leaders and congregations have things that inspire them. If the church is filled with educators, it may be schools. If it is located in a college town, it may be undergrads. If it is rural, it may be growing and sharing food. What, collectively, inspires your congregation to join God on mission?
Identifier 2: Discover Gifts
Every congregation has a unique gift set. Those gifts tend to skew in one direction or another. Some congregations are filled with workers. Give them a task and a pair of gloves. They need no further encouragement. Other congregations are more intellectually focused. What gifts are present in your congregation?
Identifier 3: Find Needs
Every neighborhood has challenges that the church can address. Additionally, the challenges of the broader society and world often knock on the church’s front door. Survey the congregation to see the concerns that burden them and ask community leaders what challenges are present in your neck of the woods.
Here’s how to invest in the “one-thing”:
Investment 1: Do Your Homework
Before jumping into the “one-thing,” learn whatever you can about this potential ministry area. Remember that good intentions have often done more harm than good. One helpful avenue of research is finding other organizations already invested in similar ministry. Their insights will be invaluable for your launch.
Investment 2: Create A Team
The “one-thing” needs a team to flourish…a team of dedicated visionaries who share the burden, find joy in common cause, recruit volunteers and become first adopters in this community-wide investment. Renewal leaders do not have to be on the team but they must support the team and have significant skin in the game.
Investment 3: Invite People Into The Vision
The “one-thing” vision must be clear, shared and compelling. It will help a congregation emerge from the confines of COVID-19 when it inspires them to think and live beyond themselves. Stories rising from this “one-thing” investment will inspire a congregation towards a new ministry day.