by Jeff Reed: With church buildings closing and thousands of churches frantically broadcasting their Sunday services online for the first time in hopes of giving people an option, I have to wonder.
I mean, if we’re going to do a big production in the building on Sunday, I get it, let’s not waste all that effort and resources. Let’s magnify our reach and broadcast that message online. Technology can be a wonderful force multiplier. It can also be a wonderful disrupter and sometimes, disruption is a good thing.
Now we’re being disrupted by COVID-19 too and it’s forcing us all to get creative, and this presents a wonderfully disruptive opportunity for Jesus’ Kingdom.
Here’s a few opportunities I see during this disruptive time:
1. We can decentralize
The prevailing model of church is so accustomed to doing ministry en-masse, but Jesus did much of His ministry with small groups of people. In fact, the smaller the group, the deeper the ministry. This is our time to trade crowds for connection. Even Jesus handled the feeding of the crowds by sub-grouping into smaller groups. We need to flip our ministry models to empowermore people to minister to others one-on-one. Jesus said where 2 or 3 are gathered He will be with us. If we can’t minister to crowds, that means we can’t centralize our leadership, our ministry, nor our care.
What if we de-centralized our leadership, ministry, and care and empowered fathers to pastor their families?
What if we created content for the kids and their parents to have creative times of learning the Bible together?
What if we wrote a home church manual that anyone could do?
We HAVE to let the people be the church, or it doesn’t get done. That’s a healthy disruption. Churches that are equipping the saints for the work of the ministry are winning big time right now.
2. We can digitize
I’m an early adopter of technology. I always enjoyed using Amazon Prime, Uber-eats, Netflix, and Microsoft Teams. This week it feels like I need them to survive. Each of these technologies have overnight taken over entire industries and created new ones.
Enter Church Online.
The online audience is not just the primary audience right now, it’s the only audience. Now people can interact in their homes with a church service instead of just consuming content.
What if we gave space during the message for people to pray in their homes by carving out 5 minutes in the livestream with some prayer prompts?
What if we asked people to take church selfies of their watch parties and included it in the livestream?
What if we took what we spend on powering the lights, HVAC, and subwoofers in our buildings to deliver pizza to those home watch parties?
3. We can go daily
Sunday is a big deal because, for some, that’s all we get. That puts a lot of weight on Sunday, it can be a lot of pressure. It’s like some families make a big deal about Thanksgiving dinner because it’s the only meal the family eats together the whole year (maybe that’s why it can be awkward). For other families, Sunday dinner is important because it’s the only time during the week the whole family is together.
If church on Sunday is all you get, you better make it awesome.
But what if you were like the Church in Acts where they met daily? Then the pressure’s off for Sunday.
What if we re-designed our church services to be every day in the home for 15-20 minutes?
What if we did a livestream of Bible reading in the morning every day from a different person?
What if we prayed together decentralized, and digitized, and daily in homes for 5 minutes at a certain time?
4. We can delight
People don’t expect much right now, the virus is shutting everything down and all we hear is negative. Anyone doing anything, let alone creative, out of the box thinking making a positive difference sticks out like crazy. We can trade anger for action.
What if we combated isolation and took the church staff that now doesn’t have Sunday responsibilities and re-deploy them to call people of the church to ask how they can pray for them?
What if we did a drive through food drive for the vulnerable and livestreamed it?
What if we added all the toilet paper that is in storage to the food and donated care packages to foster homes?
What if we sent out easter egg hunt kits for resurrection Sunday and included photos/videos sent from families in the livestream?
Experiment! Shake it up! It’s better than nothing and if it doesn’t work, you can blame it on the virus. It seems like that’s what everyone else is doing!