I wandered back into my church office the other day. I hadn’t been there in a month. As I sat in my office chair I glanced over at my Snoopy Calendar Cubes. It said March 11 …
March 11. That’s the last time I worked out of my office some twenty-two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been primarily working from home and trying to juggle “church” with “magazine publisher” with “president of the Effective Church Group.”
I’ll bet you can relate, at least on some levels.
We’ve not been idle at the Church Group … consultations, trainings, coaching, and so on have kept us busy, but to be fair, Blog Writing fell to the bottom of my To Do list.
Until I had a conversation with a pastor last week. He mentioned that they were redoubling their efforts to get ready for a new worship service that they’d be launching as soon as they thought it would be safe to have a large group gathering. That’s when I asked about the quality of their worship now.
The pastor didn’t go silent, but I could sense the tension meter rising. The words, “Not good” pretty much said it all.
This congregation isn’t atypical. There are a lot of congregations that are acting as if they stuck a bookmark into March and plan on picking up where they left off whenever this “inconvenience” has blown over.
In the meantime, they’ve “done the best they can,” meaning they’ve treated the past twenty-two weeks as a time of waiting for whatever’s next.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This is what’s next.
So, we did an overview of some of the churches we’re working with and thought I’d share …
What we’re seeing:
Churches Primarily Focused On Returning
- Provide an online worship experience that only a die-hard member would love
- Are experiencing sagging attendance in their online and/or drive-in services
- Are attracting few regular attendees from outside their physical ministry area
- Are struggling financially
Churches Primarily Focused On Making the Most of Today
- Provide at least an adequate, and often an excellent, online worship experience
- Are experiencing either growth in attendance or have reached an attendance plateau in their online worship and/or drive-in services
- Are attracting and retaining a number of regular attendees outside their ministry area (sometimes significant numbers)
- Are experiencing financial stability and/or increased giving
All that’s to say that those churches that stuck a bookmark into March and think they’re going to be able to pick up where they left off will likely find themselves disappointed. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park for those focused on today, but I can assure you that they’ll be in a better position …
Over the next few days, I’ll expand on what we’re seeing and what we’re recommending. However, until then, let me get you thinking by posing a couple questions:
- Is your online/drive-in worship so good that your members are willingly inviting their unchurched friends to attend?
- Have you put a bookmark in your discipling ministries or are more people than ever involved in adult spiritual development?
- Is your congregation’s member-care better, worse, or the same today as it was in February?
- How are your finances? (and could there be a possible correlation with the responses you’ve made above?)
- Is excellence as much of a core value today as it was back before the shutdown? (Or are you just getting by … ?)