A lyric from the musical RAGTIME declares “We can never go back to before.” Those words will likely ring true for post-COVID congregations. We cannot return to what was. That reality promises to leave some renewal leaders experiencing a disappointment similar to that of the old-timers among the Jewish returnees who realized that the new temple would not be the temple of their youth. God’s word to the old-timers and us is, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zach. 4:10 TLB). An important part of this new beginning is forging a new Post-COVID identity. We must again ask: Who are we? Where are we headed? How will be get there?
Here are 7 questions that will help shape your new-identity:
Question 1: What “Stirrings” Are Present Within You Today?
As you emerge from the pandemic, what is the Holy Spirit stirring within you, your leaders and your congregation? Those stirrings create an impatience that may be the Holy Spirit’s encouragement to invest in things that have great importance for God’s mission in this world. Pay particular attention to stirrings about a larger, Christ-honoring work.
Question 2: What Covid Learnings Shoud Be Incorporated Into Your Future?
COVID forced us into new learnings that can shape our future. Those learnings include the way decisions are made in a rapidly changing environment, learnings about the use of technology for Gospel-sharing, learnings about remaining connected to disconnected members and learnings about being resourceful when resources are few.
Question 3: What Covid Partnerships Should Remain Part Of Our New Story?
COVID has created an opportunity for community partnerships that should be part of your new identity. Those partnerships may have been with a local foodbank, a local health department, a local school system or a local restaurant or business that church members supported and encouraged. How can those partnerships continue to be nurtured?
Question 4: What People Resources Are Availble To You Today?
COVID is changing a congregation’s people resources. For many churches, the available people resources may be cut by as much as 25-50%. While the breadth of people resources decreases the depth will increase as passionate Jesus followers return ready to engage in post-pandemic ministry. Who do you have today? What will you ask of them?
Question 5: What VIsion Is Centra To Your Next Mininstry Investment?
Vision is a red-hot, crystal clear picture of a God-preferred future that captures the hearts of leaders and inspires the minds of God’s people. If you were to paint a picture of the future, what would it look like? New beginnings demand a renewed vision that will compel God’s people to make deep investments for accomplishing shared goals.
Question 6: What Type Of Church Are You Now?
Churches come in three types: smaller relational congregations, larger program-driven congregations and mid-sized blended congregation. Each type has different values and practices that sustain what they do. Are you the same type of church you were prior to COVID or must you redefine who you are, what you do and how you will get it done?
Question 7: What Fresh Ministry Opportunities Are Available To You Today?
COVID has created fresh ministry opportunities that can be part of a congregation’s new identity. For example, there is ministry related to folk we’ve met on-line, ministry related to people newly disconnected from their faith families, ministry to those financially devastated by the pandemic and ministry related to students who have fallen behind during virtual learning. How can your congregation embrace those or other opportunities to love and to