Faith and Finance Part 3
Early in 2020, as we were visiting family in Nashville USA, the world was rocked by a shock that no-one had had any experience to understand. COVID, hit!
I mean hit, panic was all around. Churches were dazed, hospitality venues rushed to find ways to continue serving, no sitting inside, QR codes, sanitising – crazy times.
At the beginning of March 2020, we had to rush to exit the USA, then face a barrage of controls as we exited the plane in Sydney and finally into quarantine.
The closest the world had come to this before was widespread SARS, swine flu endemic in SE Asia and ebola in places in Africa.
The lockdown had started and in many places it is still off-and-on.
The “lockdown syndrome” for churches
- Locked-out of church buildings
- People locked-in at home scanning their TVs for Christian input
- People finding other things to do and dissociating with their local church communities
- Ministry staff and volunteer leaderships struggling to “make church happen”
- Leadership teams finding it difficult to be creative to minister with their people
- “Pivot” has become the buzzword for church leaders as they try and understand this new era of Christendom
Alternative ways of “doing church”
Maybe this has all been a shock for you, your family and/or your church.
Have you been trying other ways of “doing church” that you had not experienced before this season?
- while people like to say that church is not a building it is the people of God, it has been hard for people to dissociate church from buildings
- church buildings are convenient as places to congregate and do things together
- church buildings and all the infrastructure that collects around them and the general administration are generally a huge drain of resources for congregations.
- it’s hard to realise that “church” has not always been done like this – with buildings
alternative ways of “doing church” can be extensions of some of what had been regular extra activities, such as: small groups, community groups, connect groups, neighbourhoods, meeting locally because we couldn’t move outside certain geo limits
- we’ve been living-out some of the ways of the Acts Church – except we have had internet based connections
Post-lockdown, how will your church face the future?
“New ways” are actually the original ways of doing church.
Remember the Christian Church in Acts and the early years? They were communities of believers meeting in homes and small groups
- the last 2 years of pandemic have brought many challenges
- people have responded differently all around the world to the impacts of the pandemic
- Most church buildings have been closed for varying lengths of time during this season
- many church congregations have struggled to maintain connections with and amongst their the people
- Many churches have struggled with their finances – because of non-cash offerings and/or without non-donation sources of income, such as rents, hall hire and function fees
- Many churches will exit the lockdown season wondering how to re-engage, re-establish church as their knew it “before” (ie pre 2020)
- Many churches have taken-up the challenges and done what is now popularly called “pivot”- turned to take up the challenges
Challenges are opportunities to pivot
This week, I heard the pastor of a church from Atlanta talk about an amazing pivot by their congregations. This past summer, post-lockdown, they decided to “go mobile” even though they were out of lockdown. They took their church meetings out into their communities each Sunday in the open. This move, as well as general outreach, has caused a significant increase in their ministries – new people, new disciples, new forms of ministry, multiplication of small groups, and increased church income.
How are you preparing to ‘take on your challenges’?
What have we learned during the lockdown when we didn’t meet in church buildings, in large gatherings, without the music (large) band, collect the offerings in plates, baskets or buckets?
What are your challenges?
→ challenges are the sparks to ignite faith
→ challenges are the inspiration to call out finances
→ challenges are reasons for missional activity
→ challenges are out there with Jesus’ call for our discipleship, Matt 28 and John15
Whether you are out of lockdown or on a “roadmap” to “freedom”, what are you doing about church, worship services and gatherings, meetings, ministry and finances? Who will be there when you open the doors?
Many churches are heading out of lockdowns (hopefully) and trying to understand what the new environment is or will be like. What will the landscape look like for Christian mission and ministry?
At Benkorp we are in contact with hundreds of churches who are struggling to navigate their way through all the constraints of lockdowns. Now the challenges are about managing the processes to emerge from lockdown intact without too much damage.
Of course one of the big challenges is about managing finances – how different will finances be in your church’s new environment?
In Part 4, we will consider some strategies for tackling the church’s new post-lockdown environment – including the financial challenges.
If this article raises any issues for you, or you have any comments, please respond here or book a chat to discuss it.