Two long years. It has been two long years since the World Health Organization officially deemed Covid-19 a pandemic. Who would’ve imagined, way back in March 2020, where we would be today? I think it’s safe to say that everyone thought, or at least hoped, that this deadly virus would be long gone by now. Instead, the virus continues to spread throughout the world, businesses are desperate to recover, and churches are asking how do we do more with less? In this article, I want to share with you the surprising truth about how to do more with less.
My new book, Forging a New Path: Moving the Church Forward in a Post-Pandemic World, coming out in May 2022, deals with the culture shifts that need to take place within the church to withstand any external circumstance that may come along. In my research, I thought, who better to survey than the church leaders and colleagues in my program, Creating a Culture of Renewal®. I asked, “What would you like to see in a book about growing the post-pandemic church?” By far, the most common answer was, “We’d like to know how to do more with less.”
What have you found there is less of?
My follow-up question was this: “What have you found that there is less of?” Their answers were relatively consistent: less people, less money, and less tech experience than needed. Makes sense. We have all felt the lack of contact with others during the quarantine, the loss of employment and income, the stress of adapting to unfamiliar situations, and the pinch of resources that were once more readily available.
Surprising Truth Revealed
While the tremendous losses can feel overwhelming, you can only see the full picture by looking at the other side of the coin too. So, I asked the same church leaders and pastors, “What have you found that you have had more of throughout the pandemic?” Here is where things really got interesting. Not only were their answers more varied, they offered a surprising truth. Even though people have less overall, they now have more of a sense of hope and togetherness, unexperienced before the pandemic. I heard answers such as “tighter knit congregations,” “more ways to connect,” “more time with God,” and “more ways to create community outside of our building.”
I was blown away. How beautiful and optimistic! While the focus had been on the negativity that surrounds the pandemic and all that has been lost, these leaders were taking ownership and intentionally looking for evidence of the Kingdom of God around them and what they and their churches gained in these long two years. It got me thinking about how we can utilize this time for learning and growing. What are people really yearning for?
The truth may surprise you. What people really want is a deeper sense of togetherness with God. People want to be in relationship with God, feel God’s presence, and know God is always by their side. Good news for us. There should be no better place to fulfill this desire than in the church. This doesn’t, however, happen by having a great worship service and fellowship dinners. We need to take one more step. We need to create the space for a deeper sense of togetherness with God by focusing on our own spirituality.
In my new book, I write about 4 models of spiritual growth. Below is one of the models, The Covenant Group Model, that I encourage you to try with your people.
Covenant Group Model
The focus of the Covenant Group Model is the desire to experience the presence of God. It requires a willingness to be honest, vulnerable, celebratory, and accountable. The covenant group model provides the space to dive beyond one’s everyday life into the realm of the soul. The experience is guided by these four questions:
- How is it with your soul?
The starting place of the spiritual journey is the core of your being, the well-spring from which life flows, a direct connection with God. When all of the world’s demands and distractions are moved aside, what is left? Honesty is the foundation of this question.
- Where have the challenges been?
As you move to the second question, vulnerability joins honesty in the conversation. Sharing your challenges is the first step to loosening their grip on your life. The difference between a challenge and a blessing is just a shift in perspective.
- Where have the joys been?
After honesty and vulnerability comes celebration. God is at work in your life. Give thanks and praise God for God’s never-ending presence. There is no limit to where sparks of joy can be found. Joy may be found in a simple smile at the right time or in a life-changing and unexpected shift to a better life. To see the Kin(g)dom of God around you, simply stop and notice.
- What would you like to be held accountable for?
The covenant group model of spiritual growth deepens from honesty, to vulnerability, to celebration and finally to accountability. It’s a way of saying, “Here’s my commitment; please hold me to it. Ask me the hard questions when I fail to follow through and rejoice with me when I succeed.”
Take your next steps
Participating in a covenant group is a powerful way to deepen your spirituality and build the bonds of community. It puts you in the flow of unconditional love, the wellspring of all spirituality. This love is the foundation of growth, discipleship, and the Kin(g)dom of God.
Even though you may feel you have to do more with less than you did before the pandemic, the surprising truth is that spirituality can give you more hope and togetherness than you had before.
Are you ready to try this model with your people? I’d love to hear how it goes! Share with me in the comments what you learned, what worked or didn’t work, or how you tailored it to fit your particular group.
To learn more about the surprising truth about how to do more with less, please join me for my upcoming workshop, How to Do More with Less, through Market Square Publishers.
Adapted and excerpted from Rebekah Simon-Peter’s upcoming book, Forging a New Path: Moving the Church Forward in a Post-Pandemic World (Market Square, 2022).
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