This week I heard of a college professor who wondered whether this semester’s on-line instruction will forever reshape higher education by drawing multiple students away from expensive on-campus learning. He pondered how this may reshape his life and work. His reflections led me to consider how COVID-19 may reshape the life and work of ministry beyond pandemic’s end.
Here are 7 possible ministry changes that may last into the future:
POSSIBILITY 1: CHURCH MEMBERSHIP MAY REMAIN A BLEND OF IN-PERSON AND ON-LINE CONGREGANTS
Some members may not return to in-person participation and some non-members may join a new on-line fellowship. Churches will need to discern what membership means and develop new strategies for disciple-making to serve both communities. Increased tech savviness will be essential for this work.
POSSIBILITY 2: SERMONS MAY REMAIN MORE SENSITIVE TO THE UNCHURCHED
The reach of congregations has expanded exponentially as a result of COVID-19. Most congregations now have on-line public worship to which the community is invited. For many pastors this has increased their awareness of a broader audience. These new communication tones and practices should remain.
POSSIBILITY 3: CONCERNS FOR GERM TRANSMISSION MAY REMAIN INTO THE FUTURE
Shaking hands during mutual greetings, passing offering plates, distributing communion elements and serving refreshments without gloved hands may be a thing of the past. New guidelines and practices for a safer environment will be expected. Children’s ministries will also have to develop new practices.
POSSIBILITY 4: CONGREGATIONAL LEADERSHIP MAY BE NIMBLER THAN IN THE PAST
The sudden interruption of basic ministry practices has thrust congregational leadership into rapid adaptivity to address COVID-19’s new realities. Most leadership has proven more nimble than expected. This new adaptive culture may remain and provide an abundance of fresh ministry possibilities.
POSSIBILITY 5: INTENTIONAL CONNECTION WITH EVERYONE MAY REMAIN A FUTURE EXPECTATION
This pandemic has created a need for congregations to develop systems to intentionally stay in touch with members and attenders to address issues related to isolation, mental health, financial challenges and other tangible needs. These good practices of staying in touch will, hopefully, remain.
POSSIBILITY 6: RESOURCEFULNESS MAY NEED T0 REPLACE RESOURCES
Some churches will experience new financial challenges as the fiscal impact of COVID-19 settles into the lives of congregants. In this new reality churches may have to rely on resourcefulness to replace resources with an increased emphasis on volunteers and staff equipping members for ministry.
POSSIBILITY 7: THEOLOGICAL CONVERSATIONS MAY FOREVER BE RESHAPED BY COVID-19 CONCERNS
New theological conversations may surface as a result of COVID-19. The theological reflections may include a new theology of death and dying, conversations about being church in a digital age, a new theology of the sacraments, God’s providence and the role of prayer in a pandemic are likely to surface.
What lasting changes do you see on the horizon and what do those future changes suggest about today’s investments in preparation for tomorrow’s world?
We’d love to hear from you.