If We Knew Then What We Know Now…

“If we knew then what we know now, what would we do differently?”

Don Stewart left a large aerospace firm to join our staff. A friend and mentor, he taught me much about leadership. The question was his most significant contribution to my leadership ability.

Whatever the answer to that question became what we should do, stop doing or at least begin to implement. It became the bedrock for proactive, rather than reactive, planning. This single question became a positive disruptor whenever we had the wisdom to ask it.

Facing Current Realities

So, what would you do differently if you were planting your church today?

You may have planted as recently as 2019, but the world has changed drastically since then. We just came through an extremely divisive political process, and of course, the pandemic has hastened just about every technology known to man.

Your congregation may be a hundred years old. You face the same rapid change as a younger church but with the additional baggage of your own traditions rendering transition more difficult.

Add to this the fact that America is less favorable to the gospel than ever and we all face increased marginalization. We need a new approach to the community around us.

Assembling a Game Plan

So, maybe it’s time to ask what you would do if you were planting today and then pursuing whatever you discern. Gather your trusted leaders and re-imagine your congregation as a church plant to launch by Easter, 2021.

Knowing what you do, ask your team:

  • How would you strategize a new church to include COVID related problems and opportunities?
  • What meeting space might best serve people conditioned to faith without a lot of programs.
  • Which media would best support word-of-mouth communication of the gospel?
  • How would you best incite pre-evangelistic friendships in “marketplace missionaries?”
  • How will you excite “back in the building, folks” about the need for a continued online presence?
  • Are Digichurch and Microchurch practical tools in your situation?
  • How can you streamline, align and synchronize your disciplemaking processes?
  • Would you build around Microchurches or try to launch large?

I can think of a dozen more strategic questions to ask. But all of them stem from the one I started with, “If we knew then what we know now, what would we do differently?”

When to Ask?

I’m not a post-COVID reactionary. For me, this process is as comfortable as an old pair of Levis.

Churches I pastored asked this super-important question whenever the surrounding culture encountered a crisis. We asked it after 911, during the 2008 financial crisis and after a hurricane tore through a neighboring island. We asked it many times during local crisis’—after a plane crash took the life of an upcoming leader or following a shooting death near our campus entrance.

Times of change demand a new approach to ministry. Sometimes it must be a simple reaction like putting your service on Facebook or YouTube. But it’s best to peer into the future. Look beyond the crisis and ask how to position yourself better to serve people when the situation passes. Be proactive.

Again, if you knew then what you know now…

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