As churches begin to prepare for re-opening our buildings, I think there are three important questions every church leader needs to ask. There are probably many more within each of these, but I like simplicity, so I’m limiting it to three.
I wrote previously about positives things that will be different after this pandemic crisis. Certainly, some things will never be the same. I think there are positives changes that will come from this as well.
If I were to come alongside of your church, (and I’m certainly happy to do that through my coaching ministry), I would help your staff or leadership think through each of these in a brainstorming session. You can certainly do this on your own.
3 questions every church leader should ask now:
What are we keeping?
There were likely things you added in this season that need to remain even after the crisis is over. Spend some time analyzing what has happened in this season that is good and can work in the future?
For our church, I think online Zoom meetings are here to stay. It’s an easy onboarding for people. It can help in-person Bible studies stay connected during the week. When someone is sick they can still be connected to the class.
This is just one example, but there are likely many others. Our YouTube channel will never be the same again. It’s going to be a huge part of how we communicate with our church.
We now have new methods of communicating with people. People are more comfortable with technology now than ever before.
Another thing I’ve been thinking we need to keep is how we introduce change.
We made changes quickly in this environment. What are some changes you need to make, but didn’t feel the freedom to do prior to this time? You may be able to now more than you may think you can.
This crisis has reminded me that innovation can occur in any size church. I was saying this the entire time I was at Leadership Network. We used to look to big churches to bring forth change. Many smaller churches would learn from them and model after them. But disruption doesn’t just come from the largest churches anymore. If you have a computer and internet you can lead the way. Let’s not go backward here. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Drive the way for others.
What are we tweaking?
One example here is that some church bylaws need to be changed. In our case, we had to work around some of them just to make some decisions that had to be made. We need to consider how we function in things like governance and what “attendance” looks like according to our written and approved documents.
I would never encourage you to alter your messages, but when you are more online what you say sticks. It stays forever. In my previous church, we had a large television audience. I just had to be mindful of that. It might mean you have to explain a story differently for people who aren’t familiar with it. You may have to explain when you do rituals or traditions that people “outside the room” wouldn’t understand. And we should always provide a message of hope, in my opinion, even when we are teaching on very difficult passages. People always need hope.
Online has been and may become even more a huge front door for the church. We should consider how we “shepherd” that opportunity. You may need to change who some of the volunteers you have are or where people serve. Some of your greeters may become “online hosts” for example.
What are we stopping?
This will be the hardest one. We tend to love holding on to programs and ways of doing things. But if you are going to put more energy and attention into new things, such as online involvement, then that energy will have to come from somewhere else. What are outdated programs that simply don’t work anymore? Are there things you’ve done in the past just because you’ve always done them? Now may be an opportunity to change them. You may have the freedom you’ve never been afforded.
While I don’t know when the opening of our churches will be, I’m optimistic it will happen in the next few months at least. The time to get prepared is now.
I’d love to hear your answers to any of these three in the comments. It would help all churches. I may share some of these ideas in a future post.
(BTW, I’ve got room for a few new virtual coaching clients. If you have an interest, contact me for details.)