You may have gotten by, to this point, without confronting this truth. But there is no more denying it. Like many generational crises in our history, COVID19 is a generation-shaping event. Change is here, whether you are ready for it or not. As your church is in the regathering stage, you are noticing that some things are vastly different than before.
Perhaps you are holding out for a “back to normal” feel. But now is the time to face the music—church will never be the same, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. Your church’s future will not look like her past. Major change is upon us. Technological change. Organizational Change. Relational change. Financial/Budgeting change. Programming change. What you do (the Great Commission) will stay the same. But how you do it is changing faster today than ever before.
There will be some unbiblical change. That’s not okay. The church should never embrace change that violates the express commands or spirit of the biblical text. But wherever change is biblical, it needs to be embraced with full expectation of God’s faithfulness.
Major change is here. Here are 4 ways church goers will face it.
- Some will Fear Change. Just the idea of major change will cripple some church members with fear. Maybe you are one of them. Those who fear change will either hide from it or run from it. They may choose to never return to the worship gathering. Or they may shop for a new church home that looks more like the methods and structures they value from yesterday. But eventually, that church will change as well. Stepping into the unknown can be a frightening thing to do, especially if you have a tendency to over-value normalcy. But the truth is, in your church, major change is coming whether you fear it or not. Some in the congregation will not be able to move past the fear of change and lean into future opportunities. Don’t be one of them. Don’t hide from change, and don’t run from it.
- Some will Resist Change. They are not convinced. They are still holding out for “back to normal.” Normal was working before, so why can’t it work again? The problem is, the culture around the church is not going back to normal. If you resist change, you will be part of the problem, not the solution. You mean well, I know. You want to anchor your church in time-tested methods. All change requires risk. You must take the risk that comes with change. If not, you will be left in the dust of yesterday’s methods at the expense of tomorrow’s opportunities. As long as the change is biblical, embrace it in full faith that while everything around us changes, God Himself is unchanging. The God of yesterday’s normal is the God of today’s change and the God of tomorrow’s opportunities. Don’t resist the change. Trust God through it.
- Some will Manage Change. Management is not, in itself, a bad thing. Effective management is a gift from God and is necessary to implement vision. But managing change, alone, is not the way forward. Some will navigate the coming changes one day at a time, taking it as it comes and hoping for the best. They will put out fires today, then show up tomorrow with a refilled extinguisher. I know you have probably heard many podcasts and read many books on change management. But managing change cannot be your overall strategy moving forward. To survive as a church, you can likely manage change. But to thrive as a church, you will need to lead it.
- Some will Lead Change. These church leaders will bring innovation and creativity to the table every day. They have received this crisis as an opportunity to dream bigger dreams than ever before, to challenge the status quo, to reimagine ministry, to change the measurements of success, to become laser-focused on their mission, and to drive their church to excellence. They are not managing change. They are leading it. Major change calls innovative leaders to the front of the pack. There, at the front, you will find those gifted individuals who God has raised up “for such a time as this.” If God has gifted your church with such leadership, support them. Follow them. Encourage them. Be willingly led by them.
Change is not coming to your church. Change is here. And with this change comes great opportunity for the advancement of the Great Commission in our day. How will you face it?
Grace and Peace,