Time for a Change

As a young pastor, I considered myself progressive in terms of change.

“What can we do differently,” I would ask myself. “There must be a way to make this better.”

Along the way I realized I didn’t like change as much as I thought. A change in the worship service had me asking, “what do I do now.” I knew the old outline for worship backwards and forwards. Change is difficult.

And it happens to all, young and old. One of my worship leaders was with me when we were interviewing interns. This worship leader was viewed by many to favor too much change too fast. The young potential worship team member asked my leader what songs he used. After answering my worship leader was told, “That’s so 2000’s. According to this potential team member my worship guy was in a rut, behind the times.

Covid 19 has thrown us into change. None of us would have wished this on anybody, but here we are.

For churches, most went through some point of not meeting in person, and the vast majority of those who have started meeting in person have far fewer people in attendance. And the attendance is probably not going to return to a pre-Covid level.

Change has to take place when we are thrown into it. So, what do we do?

First, we must face reality. Fewer people will probably mean less finances. And some of the people we see will have reduced incomes due to lost jobs or fewer hours. Church budgets may have to be trimmed.

Second, having been thrust into change, we need to make the best use of the opportunities. Many are hurting and eager for relationships. Some of these may have been watching us online. Do everything possible to find out who they are and to connect with them. Get their email address. With email follow-up you may be able to get a phone number and to have a phone conversation.

A recent Wall Street Journal article focused on how phone calls are back in vogue for businesses. A text or email doesn’t give any voice tone. People may not want people to see them, but they will welcome the connection of a phone call.

Third, put your primary focus on reaching your community. I’m a bit older and cautious of up close contacts. But I walk my neighborhood and speak to people I see who are in their yards. Being in Georgia, I know that is easier for me than if you are facing very cold weather in Minnesota. But it’s one thing you can do.

You can also do a prayer walk, perhaps with another person and pray for the people in each house. Leave an attractive note or door hanger letting them know you’ve prayed for them. Provide contact info, so you can be reached. There are hurting people who may have prayer requests and spiritual needs.

You could also use direct mail to let your community know what your church is doing. As appropriate, have events that have social distancing measures in place.

You could provide zoom or other online Bible studies for your community. Work towards what you’re going to do when people are comfortable getting together again.

We face problems, but God provides opportunities.

Ashton C. Smith

I may be reached at: ashtoncarpentersmith@gmail.com

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