The stakes couldn’t be higher. If churches get this wrong, people will die. People we know and love, people we have never met, folks that count on the church to do the right thing. Yet pressures are mounting to open now.
We have learned some things about ourselves during these weeks as physically scattered churches. The poignant question may not be how will WE as the church emerge, but rather first how will I emerge? Or, what part(s) of the body am I now?
Extra weight can keep the Body of Christ from living out fully the love of God. As frustrating and difficult as this time of quarantine has been, churches have been given the opportunity to shed the weight of excess programs, ministries and activities.
Social distancing has disrupted our habits of work and worship. We can adapt, whether adeptly or awkwardly. We do not, however, have to let social distancing disrupt or destroy “the tie that binds” and “the fellowship of kindred minds.”
These are troubled times, but our faith and our traditions have prepared us for this work. This is the time to believe – and live into – our message.
If you buy into the popular myth – and faulty metric – that a church should devote no more than 50 percent of its budget to personnel costs, you may risk starving your congregation of its energy or life force.
The ecosystem of congregations, judicatories and the institutions that prepare persons for ministry has been fraying across the denominational spectrum.
Borrowing from scripture and the U.S. Navy, I suggest a pastor’s role in today’s world should be like that of Jesus, who began his movement with the flexibility of a new type of vessel, a small crew and the vision of a new creation based on the pattern of heaven.
Traditional, established congregations that are more than 40 years old are in steady and persistent decline. Now is the time to speak the truth, reclaim our hope and launch a realistic and thoughtful plan for our future as God’s people.