Church in a New Reality: Now What?

by Mary Frances

This post is part of our Keeping Congregations Connected series and includes information on our upcoming webinar: Reopening Church in a New Reality: Re-Visioning in a Changing Context.

We used to say “The more things change, the more things remain the same,” but in 2020, that old saying has been turned on its head.  Today the one thing that remains the same is change. We live in a new reality. Each day we turn on the news or look at our social media feeds to find our way of life challenged as never before.  In the midst of so much change, how do we move forward? How do we think about thriving as the church rather than just surviving?

In the weeks after Covid-19 hit, churches across the country pivoted from in-person worship to online worship in the blink of an eye. I’m not sure the church has ever seen such a rapid change without major resistance! There were no committees, no focus groups, no church council discussions. It just happened. And it was good. Churches adapted to their new reality.

Then we began to address what other essentials needed to change.  Online giving took priority, new ways of doing pastoral care, phone trees were initiated, and members were contacted one by one.  “Are you okay?,” we asked.  “Do you need anything?”  “Can I pray for you?”  All was well.  Congregations were now safely ensconced on Zoom or Facebook Live.  Whew!

It seems that Covid-19 is going to be with us for the foreseeable future and perhaps the unforeseeable future.  What will church look like a year from now in our new reality if we cannot gather for in-person worship?  What will mission look like if we can’t volunteer at the food pantry or send youth on mission trips?

So, we find ourselves asking, now what?  Is this what God is calling us to be and do in these times?  Worship online?  Well, yes, but not only worship online.  Engage our communities, yes, but not only our existing communities.  Certainly, God is calling us to new ministries and new missions, we just have to figure out what those are.  If God is doing a new thing (and she is); what do we do now in our new reality?

Join us on Wednesday, August 19 at 1pm ET for engaging answers to the question “Now what?”  We will look at how to use new demographic data to identify who is in your community, your community needs, as well as community resources.  We’ll talk about the role of small groups in the new church model and what outreach looks like when you can’t leave your house.  There certainly isn’t just one answer to the question “Now what?,” but we will explore some of the answers. 

Want to help your congregation more effectively engage the neighborhoods it serves?

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Those who engage a full Neighborhood Missional Assessment or other consultative program from FaithX will receive a complete NMIR in interactive (dynamic HTML) format.

Important Note: A Neighborhood Missional Intelligence Report can also be a useful tool for identifying the prevalence of at risk groups within your membership and ministry areasand a Neighborhood Missional Assessment can help you identify the neighborhoods where they are most prevalent.

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Important Note: In the days ahead Datastory will be adding COVID-related data to MapDash to all current and future subscribers (including incidence of COVID-19, hospital locations and capacity, Twitter feeds, location of doctors).

FaithX is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and Ken’s faith-based consulting practice at FaithX is carried out under an extension of ministry from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.