I’m continuing to try and encourage people to think about future church planting. I realise that after the pandemic a lot of us will be looking at the fragile state of churches and the temptation will be to go into maintenance mode.
I hope we won’t do that. There remains a great need out there. Remember that Jesus did not tell us that we would need to pray for a harvest, the problem was never a problem with the lack of harvest but with a lack of workers. However, the challenge is that there are a lot of people who will have had some engagement with Christianity through lockdown but won’t yet be ready to attend a physical in person church service.
That’s why I think we should keep the focus on our online content. Continue to provide evangelistic material, invite people to join Alpha, Christianity Explored or First Look courses online, via chat on Facebook or a Zoom/Teams meeting. Aim to have at least one online event each week.
Then, from there, invite people to get in touch with you, maybe just through a simple DM or possibly provide a survey for them to fill in. Find out where people are joining you from. Are people mainly local or are some a bit further afield. Are there clusters of people in particular areas?
The next stage is to start to link people up who live in a particular area. You will need Christians on the ground in the area and that might involve some people moving. You’ll also need to think through carefully all the safe -guarding issues. However, the aim is to see a local small group of people connecting and studying the Bible together. Start online but then begin to look for opportunities to gather those people in person.
Eventually, you may have two or three community groups meeting in a particular area and that will lead to the next stage, the possibility of an in person, Sunday gathering.
If we hope that all those extra viewing figures we saw on our Facebook services will translate automatically into increased attendance at our church then we may be mistaken. Don’t expect an immediate boost in the short term. However, if we see a kingdom opportunity created by the pandemic through greater engagement with the Gospel online then in years to come, we may well be encouraged by the fruit we see.