Most U.S. churches are in some stage of a physical return to the meeting place. And we’re not alone.
Similar trends occur across our culture. Consumer and retail footfall to businesses has increased by 80 percent, travel and logistics are up 50 percent, and pharmaceutical and healthcare are up 10 percent.
Church leaders have good reasons for wanting people back in the building. As the pandemic dragged on, people’s sense of belonging and social connections suffered, especially among newer members. For many, interactions were difficult via remote.
Our Similarities with the Business World Are Many
In spite of the difficulties workers encountered during remote meetings, many enjoyed the flexibility and convenience and are reluctant to go back to pre-pandemic norms.
Business leaders are starting to worry about a potential dip in performance. They ask questions like:
- Won’t collaboration be more difficult, not less, with some people video-conferencing while others are shoulder to shoulder in an office?
- Will we need to invest in new and expensive technology?
- Couldn’t time spent commuting every day be used more effectively and perhaps ease worker’s lives?
The questions business leaders ask have implications for the church. We are emerging from this thing differently than we went in.
During the pandemic, about 50 percent of the churches saw increased performance both financially and numerically, while the rest saw no meaningful change or decreases.
The most resilient prospered. The less-resilient did not.
So What Worked?
- A basic willingness to change with the season.
- An optimistic attitude toward technology.
- A commitment to go the second mile in reaching out to members.
- Stimulating members to reach out to neighbors in helpful ways.
- A disproportionate time spent redefining purpose and goals with key leaders.
- More time spent coaching and blessing key leaders.
- Commissioning pastors of microchurches within the circle of the congregation.
Great leaders know that successful delegation requires more than leaving people to their own devices. Empowerment works best when leaders work with their teams to set clear strategic direction while offering good coaching and recognition.
What worked during the pandemic provides clues to the path forward as we increasingly embrace a hybrid model of church.
One “for instance” involves greater use of video in routine meetings and even in disciplemaking settings. I’d far rather trek to my home office than drive 40 miles to meet with people I’m discipling.
If I were a bivocational pastor I’d be looking to the past year for clues to make my life better, less busy and simpler. Much of that would come down to increased use of technology and less time burning gasoline from behind a steering wheel.
So what have you learned that might help others? Or do you disagree with something I wrote? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.