How Do We Do More with Less? A Post-Pandemic Answer

by | Jun 8, 2022 | 0 comments

Over the past month, I’ve written a series of blogs addressing the three post-pandemic questions every church leader wants answered. The first two questions I explored were “When do things go back to normal?” and “How do we get people (back) to church?” This week I am diving into the third persistent question: “How do we do more with less?” By answering this question, you will be encouraged to see things in a new light and take your next steps. Although the pandemic took much from us, it also has given us potent opportunities to forge a new path and embrace the next normal.

 

The Problem

The question of how to do more with less worried churches even before the pandemic. Your church may have already been struggling or fighting against declining numbers. As you know, the shutdowns exacerbated this trend. Whether it be less money, less togetherness, or less resources, nearly every church leader I spoke with revealed that they were having to make do with less and the answer was nowhere in sight.

 

Avoid the Pitfall of Hopelessness

If you can relate to being stretched thin in ministry, you might be tempted to feel hopeless. However, take heart. While much was lost in the pandemic, much was also gained. Amidst all the losses, congregations were actually gaining in their ability to adapt to unexpected situations, incorporate new technology, and find creative ways of connecting and being together. In some ways, we grasped Christian hope more tightly than before.

For the last two years, the Creating a Culture of Renewal® community of church leaders has generously shared with me how they were both struggling and thriving in the midst of the pandemic. They struggled because they’d never been through a pandemic, but they also thrived because of the resources and support we offer. Their experiences gave me fresh insight, which I share in my new book, Forging a New Path: Moving the Church Forward in a Post-Pandemic World.

While researching the book, I found that we are not the first Christians to wrestle with the question of how to do more with less. Those that went through the bubonic plague evolved technologically to cover the gaps left by the plague.

 

Tech Helps You Do More with Less

Just as we use Zoom and other online technologies to maximize our effort at connecting, so medieval society developed their own tech advances.

From the refinement of the printing press, to the mass production of books, to the rapid spread of information, to the active collaboration of a wide range of voices in science and the arts – all of this got its start during the bubonic plague.

After the bubonic plague was finally over (it last for three centuries), medieval society did not look back and say, “Thank goodness we can be done with books now and advances in the arts and sciences.” Rather, people who had a book in their hand for the first time looked forward to the future. They felt excitement and wonder as affordable books came into being.

Just as we have integrated technology into the life of the church – for meetings, Bible study, worship, and even communion – now is not the time to abandon those options. Technology has helped us do more with less. Even folks who don’t like to drive at night have an opportunity to be involved. Families with a sick child can attend worship and comfort their child at the same time. Adopting new technology has forever changed our expectations about what’s possible. As this pandemic ends, I doubt we will say, “Thank goodness! Now we don’t have to meet online anymore. We’ll happily drive two hours for a one-hour meeting.”

Like books expanded the reach of knowledge post-plague, online offerings erase distance, connect communities, and give instant access to new people and places post pandemic. Digital technology is the new reformation. The question is, now that you’re there, how will you stay and continue to adapt?

 

Online Is Here to Stay

Once people have online options, they treasure them. Online worship means your people can participate while traveling, indisposed, sick, or pressed for time. Don’t give any of that up, even though face-to-face worship is once again available. In this way, you can continue to maintain and even expand your reach and mission. Online options also help you extend your shelf life. Unlike starting an additional worship service, which depends on a certain number of people in attendance to be considered viable, online worship lives in a different time frame. It can be experienced hours or months later and still be fresh.

As with any new technology, people and institutions adopt them at different rates. As Rev. Sarah Payne, a Creating a Culture of Renewal® participant, pointed out: “You can’t master technology because it’s always changing.”

However, staying on the journey of adopting technology is essential. Your congregation is important to your community. Your message is more relevant than ever before. Embracing technology, without breaking the bank or overloading your people, is important. With the whole world moving online, your church needn’t be left behind.

 

Your Next Steps for Doing More with Less

Consider these words from Upper Room’s master innovator Terrell L McTyer, “The cousin of relevance is audience.” Keep your audience in mind as you choose which technologies to incorporate.

  1. Select ones that will be relevant and accessible for your particular congregation and community.
  2. When it comes to smaller or older congregations, avoid the mistake of doing too much too fast. Smaller and older churches tend to be late adopters. They won’t be the first on the technology bandwagon, but they needn’t be the last. If you do too much too fast, you’ll hit a wall of resistance. Instead, start with what is most needed and go from there.
  3. To draw young people to your congregation, focus on building your social media. Check out Facebook reels, YouTube, and TikTok videos to see what kind of content and format grabs the attention of young people.
  4. Understand the theology of technology. Technology has expanded our sense of incarnation. In much the same way that God stretched from the invisible to the visible through Christ, we are extending beyond the tangible into the intangible through digital connections.

If you’re still questioning how your congregation can do more with less, or how to incorporate technology into your setting, join me for my July workshop, How to Do More with Less, so that you can spend time in community finding the answers that work for you.

 

Excerpted and adapted from Rebekah’s new bookForging a New Path: Moving the Church Forward in a Post-Pandemic World (2022).

Copyright © 2022 rebekahsimonpeter.com, All Rights Reserved.

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