There will be many who predict how church will change post coronavirus, and the script is not yet fully written yet. There are a few safe bets when it comes to the future of church after the pandemic is over.
1. Essential ministry will flourish and extraneous ministry will flounder. For the first time in our lifetimes the church is not building a vision curve on top of another vision curve. Aubrey Malphurs made famous the successive “S” curve model (see below), and it has been a household staple for churches and pastors for 30 years.
While the model has been helpful as pastors tried to learn to cast vision, this classic model from the church growth era never allowed the church to flush out its out dated models and ministries. The approach compounded ministries creating redundancies resulting in complex churches. There have been many efforts to create a Simple Church but in the end the models were just regurgitated church growth ideas. The result was essential ministry was clouded and churches have become confused about what its ministry really is and how ministry should be performed.
The coronavirus has force the church to experience the Kubler-Ross model. This model holds the potential to flush “ineffectiveness” and “unproductiveness” (think 2 Peter 1.8) out of the church system.
Moving into the recession/depression portion of the curve holds the potential to flush out programming, ministries, and activities that do not help the church make disciples. The many churches going through the motions of religious activities because of programing traditions or leader preferences will accelerate their decline, decay and ultimate demise post-coronavirus. During the crisis donors have been able to see and feel what is mission critical and what is non-essential. They are funding mission and ministry whereas programing and traditions are being defunded.
If you can’t clearly articulate the mission critical ministries, then you will loose your resource base.
2. The church will stop fighting over models and we will start fighting for the mission. Paul in 2 Tim 2 tells Timothy to “flee from . . . and fight for.” In the next statement he says there are many who have gotten involved in “foolish arguments” and our foolish arguments have distracted the church from the primary mission. We learned this outside of the Bible belt living in a community which was less then 1% evangelical Christian. The things that seemed important when we moved there became much less important after we had lived there for a few years. The things that seemed important pre-coronavirus will not be nearly as important post coronavirus.
3. Church meetings with have a higher participation rate. Most pastors lament not being able to get all their team members in the room at the same time to discuss issues and make decisions. Even finding the right time on the calendar when most members of team are in town has been difficult in the past. After the meeting is over the efforts at communicating the decisions made and executing decisions have been impaired. But now participating via zoom, teams, etc. is a new norm. Pastors and participants will have to learn on-line meeting etiquette, but a giant leap forward into the electronic age will help the church fulfill its mission more effectively. Execution will also improve due the fact that so many have had to become disciplined with their meetings.
4. Evangelistic engagement will increase but it will move on line. Gospel presentation have skyrocketed since coronavirus. However, most of them are taking place as an arms length transaction via the web. Christians have become comfortable with the 90 second testimony, etc. where they are professing their personal faith on line. The web will be the point of declaration and the place for public profession long after the virus subsides.
5. The supply chain of business and medicine will partner with the church as its distribution center. The church has discovered the power and benefit of the grocery worker, pharmacists, and truckers, and the medical and business has seen the power of the church’s mobilization and communication network. The best of all of these entities has emerged and the partnerships will grow strong and intentional post coronavirus.
To learn more about how the church will Re-Emerge from coronavirus vision Corpus website and download the Re-Emerge playbook. You will find perspectives, checklist, and a workbook for your church to use as you Re-Emerge post-covid.