Crises generate both chaos and miracles. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused breakdowns of every sort, it has also created breakthroughs. The pandemic has revealed to us what’s most important, most essential, to us, especially in the areas of worship, spirituality, and faith community.
As churches begin to re-open their buildings, and the church’s life takes on a more familiar feel, you or your people might be tempted to crank up all the old activities of the church. Let me sound a word of caution here. Before you do so, it’s essential to ask yourself how you will keep the main thing, the main thing.
In this article, I want to help you clarify which activities and offerings are central to the church and peripheral. Which activities should you hang on to, and which ones will you want to keep on pause? Just as importantly, I want to share a new short course with you that will help you make the most of the crisis we are in.
What Matters Most in Church Life
What constituted success in the church’s life before the coronavirus hit may be very different from how you think of success now. I invite you to reflect on the church’s life before the pandemic to compare it with the church’s life now, during the pandemic, to answer the following questions.
Ministry and Mission
Begin with the ministries of the church. Before the coronavirus hit, what ministries did the congregation consider essential? What ministries does the community feel crucial now?
The answer to the second set of questions likely points to the spiritual heartbeat of your church. It probably has something to do with worship that matters. Prayers that touch the heart and encompass the common good. Peaching that connects with people’s lives. Opportunities for the community.
This set of answers also points to the real Mission of the church, while the first set of solutions may include the shadow mission of the church.
Who Is Involved
Next, reflect on who was involved in the church’s life before the coronavirus hit? Who is involved now? Provided that your congregation did not suffer many losses from COVID-19, you may find that you have more people involved than you did before the pandemic. Including new assistance from community members. If so, celebrate. A partnership between congregation and community points to the church’s life and deep Mission: demonstrating the love of God and neighbor as dearly as the love of oneself.
How to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
Put together these newly identified essential ministries of the church with the people engaged in the delivery ministry. You have the makings of the main thing of ministry. Now, how do you keep this all alive?