Don’t #ReopenChurch … #Reimagine Your Church
Phil Miglioratti • The #ReimagineFORUM
Many Pastors are afraid of what might happen when they reopen their church schedule. Members missing. New (strange?) persons who don’t fit the congregation’s homogeneous profile. Reduction in giving. A dissatisfaction with traditional patterns or a disconnecting from old programs. New expectations of leadership. Uncharted territory.
In truth, every Christian leader knows the Church can never be “reopened” because the Church is the Body of Christ, a 24/7/365 living, breathing entity. We can’t “close” down. Jesus told his disciples: “Don’t yield to fear. All you need to do is to keep on believing” (Mark 5:36). The Amplified Bible’s version: “Do not be afraid; only keep on believing [in Me and my power].”
But, even though we all experience fear, it is not to be feared. Fear can actually be beneficial as it alerts us to a problem that must not be ignored or an enemy that must be conquered. It gets our attention by screaming through body, soul, and spirit: “Do something. Now!” Our biggest mistake is trying to silence or outrun fear rather than heeding the wise words of scripture to keep focused on the Lord of life, the Chief Shepherd of the Church. As Pastor Andy Stanley would say: “Fear. Less.” I would add: “Fear wisely.”
Fear less because “…we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.” Romans 8:28 (The Passion Translation)
Fear wisely, congregation, because “…we are convinced that every detail of our church is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good through the mission and ministry of our church, for we are his community who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.” Romans 8:28 (my paraphrase)
Fear less. Fear wisely. Refuse a return to business as usual. Resist the temptation to merely reopen your church. Instead, reimagine how a church lives out faith, hope, and love in the shadow of a pandemic. Invite the Holy Spirit to take you (pastors, lead teams, affinity groups, congregations) on a journey of rethinking by:
- Assessing how the new normal impacts the calling and gifting of your congregation
- Blessing your constituents but also the diverse peoples in your community
- Confessing your fear and declaring your faith to move into the future
Make a fearless assessment of the new normal.
- Have we made meaningful connections with every member? Attender?
- Have we developed systems to identify practical needs of our families? Our community?
- Are we identifying the degree of difficulty each person/family has experienced?
- Have we surveyed our membership to know how to serve their:
- Practical needs?
- Emotional pains?
- Spiritual status?
- Gather (virtual, if not safe to meet in person) leadership to prayerfully discern:
- Strengths – what new capabilities have we discovered in our people?
- Weaknesses – in what ways has our ministry capacity decreased?
- Opportunities – which needs or new options are we facing?
- Resources – what undiscovered, unexpected resources have surfaced?
- Risks/Rewards – have we counted the cost of making changes? Doing nothing?
Begin to daily ask for the mind of Christ so that you (personally but also with congregational ministers) discern how to reimagine how to develop:
- Experiential worship
- Enthusiastic (“in; theos/God”) fellowship
- Equipped leadership
- Extreme discipleship
- Extravagant stewardship
- Engaging citizenship
Pursuing a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed journey may lead you to begin a new chapter of ministry. Your congregation or team may be called upon to make a radical change or to recalibrate systems or reorient programs. Focus on Jesus. Fear less. Fear wisely. Follow Jesus… to the places where Almighty God is already at work; an invitation to serve with our Savior.