Sunday, April 21, 2024
Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Thoughts About Ministry in 2022

In February 2021, the Baptist Trumpet published an article titled, “Thoughts About Ministry in 2021” based on a webinar presented by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance. With attendance patterns shifting dramatically and most desperately wanting things to return to a pre-pandemic normal, church leaders were struggling and seeking insight. Brotherhood Mutual’s webinar was beneficial. The take-aways from that webinar were:

• Nothing takes the place of in-person worship.

• Embrace digital based ministry, it’s here to stay.

• Digital ministry doesn’t need to be a high-end production to be effective. 

In recent weeks, pandemic restrictions have officially been relaxed. The reality is that many churches have been moving back to “normal” for some time. People are ready to see COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. It is time to review and reassess church ministry for 2022.

Here are a few thoughts. The list is not exhaustive, but could be a good starting point:

Don’t return to pre-pandemic norms without good reasoning. For the last two years, people have longed for things to “return to normal.” Unfortunately, normal from two years ago has been completely erased for some churches. Therefore, resist the tendency to reconstitute past activities or programs just because you had them prior to the pandemic. In some ways, the American church was pruned. Pruning, done correctly, can be a good thing. Evaluate everything and resume only what is truly beneficial to the mission of your church.

Weaknesses in ministry were exposed, therefore, address them. Several years ago, during a Multiplication Workshop, Dave DeVries presented a wonderful analogy between the American church and a chess game. In chess, the queen is the most powerful piece. However, skilled chess players learn to play the game without relying on the queen so much. Devries compared the Sunday morning gathering of most churches to the queen in a chess game. Churches were depending on Sunday morning to accomplish the majority of her ministry. For a while, many churches had to learn to function without their queen (Sunday morning gatherings). The absence of the queen exposed many areas that need strengthening in local churches. Make plans to address those weaknesses in ministry.

• Be intentional about evangelism. To draw on a baseball analogy, when a team is beat handily, the coach will often refocus on the fundamentals of the game. Evangelism should be the fundamental aspect of all churches. Let’s be more intentional about evangelism.

• The importance of small groups. Over the last year, pastors heard people say repeatedly, “I sure miss being with my Sunday School class!” or “I can’t wait for my small group to start meeting in person again.” Larger in-person gatherings are certainly vital and necessary to the body-life of any congregation, but small groups are vital and necessary also. In those small group settings, real discipleship and ministry takes place, community is built and life-long relationships are forged. More than ever, the last two years should have galvanized a church’s commitment to smaller gatherings, whether that be Sunday School classes or community groups.

• Relationships, not activity, is real ministry. During the pandemic, people seemed to check on others more often than prior to the pandemic. Pastors and churches became creative in how they cared for one another. Short, but meaningful videos abounded. Zoom video conferences were abundant. Social media served a positive role. Old-fashioned phone calls were regular activities.

Church members were more intentional about checking on other church members. Family checked on family. Friends reached out regularly to friends. Keep it up! That relationship building was wonderful. Add in-person relationship building to the mix and you will have a much healthier church. 

• Accept that some church attenders will not return. Churches must stop obsessing over the people that are not returning. No church wanted to lose attenders. No church leader liked having attendance drop. The challenge is not to stop caring, but to stop obsessing over lost attenders. If churches continue to obsess over lost attenders, they will continue to lose more.

What conclusions have you reached about ministry post-pandemic? What change is your church making? I would love to hear from you. (associateeditor@baptisttrumpet.com)

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