Equipping and growing the post-pandemic church

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Equipping and growing the post-pandemic church

By Barry Cosper
Bessemer Regional Director, Birmingham Metro Baptist Association

The pandemic does not negate the Great Commission.

Believers and churches are responsible to “make disciples of all nations” even when it is difficult (Matt. 28:19).

With our charge to go and make disciples in a difficult time, we are challenged by 12 radical changes coming to the church.

  1. Hugging will decline. Yes, this is a radical change for most normative sized churches! The feeling of warmth and acceptance is a cherished aspect of the Baptist church. Nevertheless, the genuine eye-to-eye smile may provide a substitute for the hugs.
  2. Sharing the communion cup will still be meaningful but increasingly metaphorical. Without a doubt, many liturgical churches will find it challenging to modify communion tradition. Even Baptists will continue to find safer ways to distribute the elements.
  3. Children’s ministry will be disinfected and cleaned regularly, or people will not bring their children.
  4. Middle school, high school, and college groups will continue to be hybrid meetings and challenges. Without a doubt, students of all ages are busier and stretched in their commitments. Church ministry is lower on the priority list than sports, academic clubs and other meetings. Student ministries will have to flow from a clear, compelling vision for discipleship to succeed.
  5. The offering plate will mostly disappear. Many regular givers are setting up reoccurring gifts or giving online.
  6. Leaders, greeters, ushers, teachers and other church workers will use hand sanitizer more often. This change isn’t too radical. However, it is one more thing that churches will need to provide as a cost of doing business.
  7. Worship will move from entertainment to experience. This is a welcome change for the committed believer. Encountering the Creator of the Universe is something that should evoke reverence and awe.
  8. Singing will be suspect (and different) but meaningful. Some concerned about transmitting illness will have concerns about being in an enclosed space with congregational singing. Nevertheless, singing is a part of the ancient Christian worship experience and will continue.
  9. There will be different levels of social distancing for vulnerable populations. Social distancing will continue for quite some time. People will self-select out when they feel vulnerable.
  10. Outdoors will tend to be better than indoors. For certain seasons and differing reasons, churches will look more favorably on outdoor activities.
  11. A shorter time will be better than a longer one. The online experience has caused many churches to cut down the number of minutes in worship services and other meetings. Zoom meetings are better attended when shortened to an hour or less.
  12. Smaller groups will be more desirable than large groups. The pandemic has helped people see strength in the small group. Small groups are vital connections for discipleship and ministry.

I encourage you to consider these final thoughts to keep your church healthy during this significant transition in the local church’s history.

Make these three initiatives your focus:

  1. Focus on making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
  2. Focus on small groups as the primary venue where fellowship and spiritual growth takes place.
  3. Focus on prayer. Only God’s power can guide the church to growth and impact.

We cannot be certain as to whether these twelve changes will take root after the pandemic. These are just thoughts and will continue to develop in the days ahead.

God is sovereign, and Jesus will build his church; we can be sure about this!

(EDITOR’S NOTE – This column originally appeared in the March 4, 2021, newsletter of the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association.)