COVID-19 has disrupted our churches like never before.
It’s taken us out of our physical gatherings and into the online world. Sundays are now spent ‘zooming’ rather than travelling. We’re doing church in the virtual rather than the real.
But as restrictions ease, we’ll gradually transition back to some form of embodied gatherings. There’ll be less screen time and more face to face time. Praise God!
The Challenges Ahead
However, before we breathe a sigh of relief, transitioning back raises significant challenges.
For starters, moving back into a building with other people will be uncomfortable for many in our congregations. It will be a big change after months of online meetings.
And with COVID-19 present in our wider community, we’ll need to be more careful about how we meet. Especially when it comes to our elderly and immune-compromised members.
Thus Pastors and their leadership teams will need to manage the coming transition if it’s to be done safely and well.
The Opportunities of Disruption
Furthermore, the upcoming transition is a God-given moment to think through the opportunities that COVID-19 has given us. Consider the following:
- Many people are more open to thinking about the gospel than ever before.
- Many non-Christians have connected with our churches via our online gatherings.
- Moving online has forced us to think through what really matters as we do church.
Thus, church pastors and leadership teams have an unprecedented opportunity (and responsibility) to re-launch their churches in a way that is not only physically safe for their congregation, but takes advantage of the disruption brought about during this season.
Relaunching allows churches to take advantage of the disruption brought about by COVID-19.
And so, here are 5 questions to get you thinking about relaunching your church:
1. Stop and reflect. What can you give thanks to God for over the last 2 months?
The last few months have been a scramble to stop ministries, start ministries, and move online. Take time to reflect with your ministry team on the positives and negatives for church members and your community from this season.
2. Think long term. Where do you want to be as a church in 2 years?
Whilst it’s important to think short term—the next 2-3 months—make decisions now that are driven by the long term. A longer-term horizon helps you and your ministry team think big. It’s a chance to consider what you believe (your core beliefs), why your church exists (to make disciples) and what this might look like for your church community. Some key questions to ask in this space:
- What could be a bigger more God honouring vision?
- What would need to change? (Make a list).
- What will be required in a post-COVID world?
3. What do you need to do in the next 2-3 months to achieve this long term vision?
Keep your plans simple. Use the government’s step framework to focus on the necessary and immediate. But keep using the longer-term vision to assess priorities and clarify what you will (and won’t) do now to achieve that vision.
4. How can you help your team?
Some of your ministry teams will be exhausted. Others will have been mothballed for the last few months as church moved online. Some may have lost motivation and vision for their old team. You will need to re-recruit teams, and motivate many for this next season (be aware that COVID may have impacted people economically, physically and emotionally).
5. How will you use this unique opportunity to relaunch your church with a renewed focus on making disciples?
This question will help you reflect on some of the ways COVID has created opportunities for innovation.
If you as a church leadership take time to consider these questions, you’ll be better placed to transition back to embodied gatherings. Not only will you make the transition safer and less stressful for your congregation, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of the opportunities that relaunching brings.
Better Together Than Alone: The ‘Relaunch Australia’ conference for Pastors and their teams
And yet, for many pastors and churches, thinking through these questions can be overwhelming.
After all, how do you know if you’re coming up with biblically sound and practical answers to these issues? How do you know if your plan to relaunch your church will help your church grow, rather than cause friction and anxiety among your members?
How do you know if your plan to relaunch your church will help it grow?
ReLaunch Australia will help you navigate the challenges and opportunities that come from transitioning to physical gatherings.
You’ll hear from pastors from across Australia in different locations, church sizes and denominations: people like Paul Harrington, Ray Galea, Andrew Heard, Rory Shiner, Murray Campbell and Iggy Wong. They’ll share from the Bible and reflect on what it means to lead your church through this new and evolving environment.
The ReLaunch Australia conference will be held online on Wednesday the 27th of May, from 10.30am to 12.30pm AEST.
There is no cost to this conference. But it will help prepare you and your church for the challenges and opportunities of this unusual season.