By Mark Dance
Like you, I’m tired of talking about the virus. We’re all ready to move on with our lives and ministries. But before we do, let’s take stock of some of the sovereign surprises we’ve seen this spring.
1. Online Tools
Countless churches began online worship and giving for the first time this spring in response to COVID-19.
So many pastors pivoted quickly to preaching to their phones and were surprised to find that not only were their members tuning in but so were many unchurched people.
In an overnight attempt to feed their sheep, they became aware that they were feeding goats too.
To God be the glory for spreading the gospel net so widely through so many churches on so many platforms. It is possible more people heard the good news this past Easter than any other time in history.
As this pandemic winds down, I want to plead with you not to abandon your new ministry tools. On the contrary, ramp up your online presence and do even more as you re-gather physically with your people.
The spiritually sick in your community still need a physician, and some of your elderly members will be sheltering in place indefinitely.
2. Home Groups
I love to hear about families who’ve been worshipping together at home. Many parents pivoted quickly to become their children’s primary disciple-makers. Hey, that’s a novel idea.
Make even more COVID-19 lemonade by providing a few simple discussion questions that people can use after watching the service online.
Even after the coronavirus coast is clear, equip your parents with the tools to keep discipling their kids at home.
Add fuel to your people’s missional fire by teaching them how to lead a neighborhood children’s event or adult summer Bible study.
Families can invite other families into their homes to worship, study, and fellowship together. The possibilities are endless in the wake of this pandemic.
3. Outdoor Events
Weather can complicate this idea, but the memories you will make may be worth the effort.
Be prepared for the inevitable distractions and complications involved, but there’ll be more forgiveness in a post-COVID season than under normal conditions.
It may be too soon for a picnic, but lots of churches have safely hosted a drive-in service or lawn service. Just make sure you follow the current CDC and local guidelines.
This window of opportunity is for you to create an outdoor reunion experience, as opposed to only gathering sparsely in sanctuaries.
Pastor, you won’t do any of this perfectly, so embrace the messiness of it all and do the best you can. Give yourself some grace at the beginning to make up for some of those who won’t give you any.
At least for the time being, get used to making short-term decisions based on the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the counsel of your leaders, advice of experts, and the best interest of your overall church.
You may want to try a creative event once as a pilot project before you commit church-wide or long term.
Until this pandemic passes completely, throw your old strategy out the window and grab some more lemons.
I’d love for you to contribute other lemonades that pastors and churches have created during this time. Let me know what you’ve seen.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats—often with his wife Janet. Mark has contributed to several books and offers weekly encouragement at MarkDance.net. He’s currently serving as director of pastoral development for the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.