Dear GCI Family and Friends,
The COVID-19 pandemic was an external shock to our established systems unlike any of us have ever experienced. Our pastors and ministry leaders have been challenged to re-think church. It has certainly been a time we have needed the creative voices among us. Many congregations have done well to listen to the creatives and have found clever ways to worship and fellowship via technology. (GCI Creative Community FaceBook Page is a splendid resource for continued sharing of fresh ideas).
So, now that we are a quarter of the way through 2021 and are seeing signs of hope, how do we approach the possibility of movement out of the pandemic?
Meredith McNabb, Associate Director for Educational Programming at Lake Institute, says this:
“On the practical management side, in a time of external shocks, the leadership task might best be summed up as asset management: what resources do you have, and what do your core values say should be done with those resources?”
This is good, straight-forward advice. I would add that it needs to happen in the spirit of Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council, where after hearing testimony and meetings bathed in prayer, they arrived at meaningful conclusions that “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (verse 28).
As we have relied on our creative folks to help learn new ways to sustain the work and presence of the church, now is a good time to for church leaders to convene and have serious conversations about the values and mission of their local church.
McNabb adds these helpful questions:
- Why does the congregation exist?
- What is the spiritual, transformational, life-giving, and meaning-making work that caused the congregation to gather in the first place?
- How do these elements play out going into our future?
These questions set the table for what could turn into a transformative leadership meeting.
I am happy that our focus this year is on the Faith Avenue. Much of our pre-Covid focus was on the Sunday gathering. I would speculate that up to 80% of our attention, resources and energy went into the Sunday meetings, and then the pandemic shut our doors. This blip in church life may prove to be an incredible wake-up call for the church to better distribute its attention, resources, and energy.
What is the new storyline for our church?
Connect Groups are a timely answer as we continue to build and nurture relationship with one another, and collectively walk with Jesus. These groups can thrive online or in the physical setting of someone’s living room.
Cross-Generational Care is a demanding need as some of our senior members and at-risk members will not be able to gather the same as before the pandemic. It is the authentic care of the church that finds meaningful ways to keep these members still included as part of church life. This is an area that requires us to step up.
Community-Building Events may receive more attention than usual since many of these activities can happen outside in a safer setting for social distancing. This is a key spot where the Faith Avenue Team converges with the Love Avenue Team. Sharing and comparing ideas from both teams that will develop into plans will be extremely helpful. And be sure to give special consideration to how these activities mix and match with neighborhood engagement.
A healthy church will find ways to function well in all three ministry avenues – Love, Hope, and Faith. It begins with a focus on Jesus as our Lord, Provider, and the Head of our church. What has Jesus been saying to us through this global health challenge? How has he reorganized our church? What priorities is he directing us toward? These questions need to begin the assessment process for your leadership teams, as you gather to set your eyes toward the future.
Jesus is our Love, Hope, and Faith. As we actively pursue thoughts, plans and activities in each of these avenues, let’s be assured that he is the one leading, and we are alongside as participants.