The year 2020 has launched an armada of articles that bear the same rippling banner. “The coronavirus could be the crisis that finally propels X industry into the 21st Century.” This week’s flotilla led off with a New York Times piece by Stefanos Chen about real estate. “Covid Pushes Real Estate Into the Future” read the headline, and the full sentence followed, predictably. “The coronavirus could be the crisis that finally propels the teach-averse real estate industry into the 21st Century.”
Toward the end of the article, amidst a discussion of technological breakthroughs in real estate, one expert in the field is quoted as saying, “we’d been sort of flying blind as an industry for so long….” Based on the experience of the past year, most pastors and church boards could probably insert the word “church” instead and readily agree.
In between these opening and closing quotes, the Chen article outlines how many houses and apartments are not built for the way people are living – and working – today. (Churches, anyone?).
It discusses how new construction is beginning to take into account social distancing arrangements for public spaces and notes the inadequacy of older construction in this regard. (Churches, anyone?)
And it notes that the needed innovations will be costly and probably only benefit the wealthier among us, exacerbating inequalities that were there and growing well before 2020. (Churches, anyone?)
The “crisis pushing us into the future” headlines get our attention because they are true. Crises do push us into the future. We rarely run headlong into any future where change happens without some push. But once the push is felt – what is our response?
We can dig in and try to resist. We can actively fight it. Or, we can use the momentum of the push to try to pull a bit in a direction that will be helpful and healthy. For a church, this pull work is the responsibility of a church board. How are you going to take what you are being pushed to consider and turn it into a positive change for your faith community?
Perhaps, at your next extended board meeting – whether closing out 2020, or welcoming 2021 – you might read Chen’s article together (or this one on the aerospace industry, or this one on the hospitality industry, or this one on the business sector writ large) and ask yourselves, what article would we write about our own institution?
Where in the church writ large do you see needed change being made in response to the push of the pandemic?
What is the direction of the push you are feeling in your own congregation?
What is the direction you would like to pull toward in the months to come?
What are some first steps you as a board can take?
As you move forward, who might be left behind?
** Digging a Deeper Well will be on break for the next two weeks and will return on December 10.