Church in a Brave New World
When the Covid pandemic started back in the spring, everybody assumed it would be an inconvenience for a few months and then things would return to normal in the summer. This has proven to not be the case. Life is still very different and we are all having to adapt. Back in April, Rev. Cameron Trimble who is the CEO of a church movement called “Convergence” wrote an interesting article predicting how Covid-19 would change church life. Many of these predictions have proven to be true. They include:
1) Doing church online is here to stay.
2) Church closures will accelerate – specifically smaller churches with aging congregations.
3) Giving in some churches will drop and then MIGHT rise again.
4) Churches need new staff structures.
5) Younger generations can finally contribute more engaged leadership (At Woodmont, this was already happening).
6) Because church programs and sermons are now available online, many will church hop and hear a variety of voices.
7) New liturgies, prayers, and songs will be created to carry us forward.
8) A renewal of investment in local communities will take place.
9) We will see a rise in spiritual directors and pastoral counselors who work outside of a congregational setting.
10) We will create new partnerships between evangelical, mainline, Catholic, and other traditions and leaders as we all seek new skills to connect with our ministries. (https://convergenceus.org/2020/04/02/ten-ways-the-church-will-be-changed-by-covid-19/)
I find each of these predictions interesting. Everybody is trying to navigate this new world. In recent weeks, I have been pushing our staff to think about ways that they can innovate in their ministries. The same approach is simply not going to work in this new reality. In the same way that I am challenging our ministers and staff, I also challenge our leaders and members to be innovative in this new world. Here are a few of the things that Woodmont is doing to adapt to our new reality.
• Enhancing our online worship service that is available every Sunday morning at 7 am.
• Continuing our 9 am drive-in service because being outside feels very safe.
• Working towards a socially distant sanctuary service that requires reservations and masks beginning Sunday August 23rd.
• Continuing our digital devotionals that will go out during the week called “6 at 6.”
• Encouraging our leaders and members to start new small groups – use the week’s sermon and scripture as the discussion topic.
• Offering Wednesday night programming online beginning with a special Enneagram series featuring Hunter Mobley August 19th and 26th.
• Roy is encouraging our members to join an existing class or small group that meets on zoom – we are constantly publishing these links and options and they are on the website.
• Encouraging online giving and direct deposit because the church still needs financial support during this time
• Jenny and Chris have been going to the houses of our youth for “front porch visits.”
• Andra is working on a vespers service that will take place during the week.
• Farrell is going to establish a weekly prayer time in the Garden of Prayer where people can come to pray for our world and those in our community who are struggling.
• Justin and Abby continue to work on children’s curriculum that is available digitally to our families.
• We have established a racial reconciliation task force, chaired by Karen Woolridge and Charles Robert Bone, to educate ourselves and to help our church lead in this arena.
• Encouraging all of our members to reach out and check on each other by phone, email, card, and social media.
• Encouraging small groups who are comfortable to meet outside on patios and porches.
• Continuing to build our new chapel and children’s area because at some point, this will end, and we will need the space. We are making significant progress.
The key in the coming months is INNOVATION and THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX. It is also an opportunity for us to strengthen our connections in this new reality. I am challenging Woodmont to not become complacent during this time, and to not let Covid keep us from doing ministry in new ways that are safe. We all need to grow in our faith and maintaining community and relationships is a big part of that. Let me know what you are doing to be innovative.
June 07, 2021
May 25, 2021