It’s helpful for those of us working in or with churches to remember that we – and our institutions – are not as special as we often think we are.
For every invaluable reminder that the church has a unique calling in our world (the church is not a business per se, etc.), we should also remember that there are important things we can learn from those working in very different arenas who are facing the same contemporary challenges … like being in the midst of a global pandemic.
Recognizing that the pandemic has accelerated and revealed trends and conditions already present, other businesses, industries, and initiatives are restructuring for the future, not just the current moment.
In travel, an industry hit especially hard by the global slowdown, airlines are changing their fee structure (no more change fees), ending some routes, and starting new ones that had been sketched out previously in their long-range plans. Hotels have said candidly that “every single part of the guest experience” is being re-evaluated and is up for re-design.
Teachers struggled heroically to move instruction online last spring. Now, as schools begin again, they are bringing months of thought and imagination to this incredibly challenging task. (Parents are too!)
Physicians are reporting that the slow move to telemedicine has suddenly become a norm – and health care providers are already assessing what works better… and what falls short in this new reality.
And how about grandparents? Not to be left out, the older generation is learning Zoom, Facetime, and any number of new ways they can continue to connect with and enjoy their grandchildren.
There are gifts in your congregation to help the church, too, navigate its future. In every walk of life, you have experienced leaders who are thinking about the future of their profession and learning every day what works, what is better, and what is at risk of being lost. Teachers, business leaders, first responders, grandparents – those learning every day what is essential to be preserved and what is possible in this challenging environment. What if you tap their daily experience to reflect on your congregation’s road ahead?
The question is probably not “when can we get back?”
How about instead: “can you help us – with what you are learning – to understand our way forward together?”