By Chuck Lawless
Only God knows what the “new normal” is going to look like in churches when we regather over the next several months. Nevertheless, here are some things I hope will continue:
- Online meetings. We’ll still need to meet in person at times, but we can accomplish a lot of meetings without requiring people to leave their homes. This approach will likely help laity who work at least eight hours and then must drive to the church for a meeting.
- Focused services. We’re learning how to do a service well without distractions and added components that may not be necessary for strong, God-centered worship. Our in-person services can thus be stronger, too.
- Online small group meetings. I’m not arguing that every small group should remain online, but it won’t hurt us to meet occasionally via this means. For example, scheduling a time of prayer when a small group member is hurting is often easier to do online.
- Local church cooperation. Our church is currently without a worship pastor, but a brother from a sister church has stepped in to record the worship set for us. All of us need to think about how we can assist sister congregations in the future.
- Student involvement. In many cases, churches have figured out the digital world because a high school or college student came to their rescue. Our churches will be stronger if we learn to involve this generation more often.
- Visionary leadership. By this phrase, I mean leadership who can wisely consider the future and help prepare our churches to move in the right direction. What we were forced to do in a few days—consider how we were going to do church in the present and near future—should be something we do on an ongoing basis.
- Family time. Many folks I know have spent more time with their families over the past few months than they had in a long time—and their children have loved having them around. I don’t want our churches to get so busy again that we unintentionally pull families in multiple directions.
- Congregational care. Perhaps your church is like many others who have intentionally reached out to all their members to check on them during this crisis. Somehow, we need to keep up this pattern in the days to come.
- Creative thinking. This crisis has pushed us to think quickly about how to respond to the issues –and many of the ideas have been unique, innovative, and effective. Perhaps the “new normal” will include church leaders who think more purposefully and creatively.
What do you want to see continue in the future?
Chuck Lawless is dean of Doctoral Studies and vice-president of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as professor of Evangelism and Missions. This post originally appeared on his site.