Now’s the Perfect Time to Refresh Your Ministry
Congregations are change-ready because of COVID-19
Rev. John Pellowe, CEO, Canadian Centre for Christian Charities
After over two years of pandemic restrictions, it’s time to celebrate the resilience and adaptability of the church. Surprisingly, we have proven ourselves willing to accept big changes in our churches, given compelling conditions. Two years ago it would have been hard to imagine that within months:
Almost every church in Canada would transition from in-person to online services.
Churches would find new ways to deliver programs without relying on their buildings.
Who would have thought congregations could adapt so quickly? Yet virtually every congregation did. And they did it without endless debates and controversy.
How did this happen? Well, as terrible as the pandemic is, its sudden urgency eliminated the most significant barrier to successful change: resistance to change. There was unanimous agreement that churches must provide weekly services, and the gathering restrictions backed by force of law meant the status quo of in-person services was not really an option. A solution had to be found quickly.
As the pandemic runs its course and finally ends, we must not overlook the significance of what congregations demonstrated during the disruption. Given a strong commitment to a goal (such as holding weekly services) and a compelling reason to change our practices (for example, public health concerns), congregations will accept significant change.
The changes made by churches have had several beneficial results, showing that God can redeem bad circumstances by bringing good out of them:
Churches have a digital presence like never before and have the potential to reach vastly more people than they had prior to the pandemic.
All congregations now have experience handling significant change, making it more likely they will accept other changes that will help the church fulfill its mission.
We are thinking of the church more as the people of the congregation than the institutional structure or the building, and that change in thinking opens up new avenues of ministry.
So, the question is, given the successful changes made due to public health restrictions, what other changes might churches want to make for other compelling reasons? Now is the ideal time to review your church’s mission statement and see what you could change to achieve greater mission success.
I personally believe God wants us to take this opportunity to tackle the mission with fresh eyes based on our new reality. The pandemic has upset the way we work, use our vacation time, socialize with others, and virtually everything else in life.
Perhaps it is time to think afresh about:
The fullness of what it means that the kingdom of God was inaugurated on earth by Jesus and the implications that has for the mission activity of the church.
Whether there are better ways to pursue the mission that would be more fruitful than our current ways.
I did an analysis of the organization I lead that had very exciting results. Though I was already a champion of our mission, the analysis brought it alive to me in a way it never had before. You can study the report (called “CCCC End Statement Unpacked”) to see how significant and generative unpacking your mission statement can be. It greatly energized me and my team with vision and creativity, led to a (slight) name change for our ministry, was a key reason for rebranding, and contributed to defining our ethos as an organization. We now have a compelling connection between the activities of every staff member and the grand vision we hold for our member churches and ministries. You can read how to unpack your mission statement here.
May the Spirit guide you as you take advantage of the gift God has given the church (our resilient and adaptable congregations) to keep doing what’s working well and to adopt new ways of fulfilling your mission that will be even more fruitful.
What We’re Watching
All are Welcome: Hospitality in Diverse Congregations
Joel Thiessen and Stuart Williams
How might those in church communities strengthen their capacity to listen to, embrace, and love those whom they are different from? In this recorded conversation, Dr. Joel Thiessen (Professor of Sociology at Ambrose University) and Rev. Stuart Williams (Senior Pastor at Skyview Community Church of the Nazarene) draw upon social scientific research, theological reflection, and practical experience to speak to this question. In particular, they talk about many kinds of diversity – political, socioeconomic, theological, generational, racial, physical, mental, and so forth – and the hopeful opportunities for hospitable congregations to emerge. As churches innovate and transition in this stage of the pandemic, many are also confronting new divisions and tensions within their diverse communities of faith. This is why this conversation is a timely one for church communities.
Dr. Joel Thiessen is Professor of Sociology at Ambrose University and Director of the Flourishing Congregations Institute
Kingdom Coming: Pastor's Conference
May 5, 2022, 9:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Join other pastors, either in person or online, for this pastor’s conference.
The three sessions will look at:
considerations for the post-pandemic church
how servants of the King live and minister in these anxious, uncertain, complex times
the church’s gospel call to reconciliation
Putting on the Full Armour of God: Prayer and Spiritual Battle in Parish Renewal
27th April, 2022 - 1 PM Central
A missionary who has no deep experience of God in prayer and contemplation will have little spiritual influence or missionary success” (Pope Saint John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia). Our experience at Divine Renovation is that no lasting fruit is seen in our parishes without individual and collective reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. As parishes bear fruit in transformed lives, they can also experience some spiritual opposition. In this webinar, with the help of Ephesians 6, we explore the indispensable role of prayer and spiritual battle in the work of parish renewal, without which we will see little fruit. Register Now
Ending Poverty Together Online Workshop
Thursday, March 31, 2022, 12 – 3:30PM
Have you ever been in this situation? A commercial shows you an image of a starving child in Africa and petitions that only you can help. Or someone living in homelessness approaches you on the sidewalk and asks for money. Or you suspect your neighbour is going into debt because of job loss during this COVID-19 pandemic.
What do I do? Can I really make a difference?
We invite you to join with others to explore the big questions about poverty and discuss tangible solutions. Register Here
From The Trenches
Tuesday, April 5th, 2022 – 11 AM Central | 9 AM Pacific
Join us for our April From The Trenches event for Parish Leaders where we dive into topics around parish renewal with those leaders who are moving their parish from Maintenance to Mission. Register Here
The New Faces of Church Plantings
Did you see "New Faces of Church Planting"? It’s the most extensive North American study of church “multiplication” ever conducted. Run by Dr. Warren Bird and ECFA, you can get a unique survey link for your church and get a report back with the findings. Take the Survey
Report on Catholic Parishes in Canada
This report captures the descriptive findings on perceptions and experiences in areas such as congregational identity, leadership, innovation, discipleship, engaged laity, hospitable community, neighbourhood involvement, and evangelism within Catholic parishes in Canada. Download Report