Some of our churches are going to need to do some building back after lockdown. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think that we were pandemic proof and so COVID-19 hit us like a full on Tsumani. Yet, in many respects, what the pandemic took out for our churches was not the real stuff. We were able to keep making disciples, keep encouraging, teaching, correcting, supporting, loving. Small groups met on line, people went for 1-1 walks and for a brief period in the summer met up for coffee and in person small group gatherings in parks and gardens. We’ve seen love in action through door step visits, care packages etc and there has been lots of phone calls and lots of prayer.
As I suggested the other day, what was cut away or pruned back was the fringe. So, there is an opportunity not just to build back what was there before but to do things differently, to “build back better” to nick a phrase.
So, what should we be focusing on as we go back? The temptation is to get all of those midweek events and activities up and running again, our clubs, our Christian cafes, our Toddlers groups etc. However, I’m not sure that this is where the focus should be. There are two reasons for that. First of all, I think people will remain anxious about such things for some time. Secondly, I’m not convinced that these activities are particularly helpful or make that much difference to the life of the church. This won’t be news to many people. My long held opinion is that these activities primarily exist to encourage Christians moving into the area to see a church as active and family friendly.
True Gospel impact tends to happen when people make friends in their neighbourhood and then invite those friends along to something where they will hear the Gospel.
And … that’s where I think our priority should be. So, what would I do post lockdown?
- I’d train and equip church members to naturally share the Gospel and their testimony.
- I would work hard at developing small groups as places for relationship and discipleship
- I would continue to put on good quality online content for enquirers to engage with.
- I would encourage people to be developing good social links in their communities, building up friendships.
- The online content also will provide “conversation starters” between friends and neighbours.
What are some of the things people could do in small group contexts in the community?
- Family walks in the park
- Play dates for one or two toddler families together
- Meet up at a local café again (and why do we as Christians keep trying to run cafes when non Christians will take on all the responsibilities of infrastructure and staffing for us?)
- BBQS etc
I’d then have a look at our evangelistic courses and I’d probably re-work material in order to contextualise it to the post-covid world that we are facing. Then I’d provide those courses for people to invite friends along to in the context of small groups.
I would probably prioritise getting small groups up and running again as face to face activities before getting a main Sunday gathering fully operational. It would then be lovely to see the small groups coming together to join in the main gathering.
Those are just a few thoughts. I’ve opened up the comments below for you to discuss and add.