You’ve Been Innovating!

You’ve Been Innovating!

Worshipers share a blessing via Zoom at Wendy Vander Hart's farewell celebration.
Hey SNE Conference, you’ve been innovating!
I mean, who would have thought a week ago that worship by video or live stream would be piloted in so many of our churches? Churches are quickly adapting to online and electronic forms of giving, moving pastoral care to phone and Zoom, and making food collections available via drive-through. 
Why was this possible?  Among other things, because the Covid-19 crisis gives us an opportunity to pare down to essential activities and just give it a go.  Nobody is going to complain because the filming isn’t polished, or because they like worship better in the pews, or because the confirmation class conflicts with sports (ok, that last one is a bad example). 
I’d suggest that the crisis has all of us needing to focus on our purpose and how we can deliver on that in creative ways. 
There is much of what churches routinely do that will seem unimportant in these days of social distancing. And yet, we hear of pastors and leaders moving with rapidity to keep the church connected, ascertain how to minister to the most vulnerable, and reach out to partners who serve with them in their communities.
I hope churches spend a little time reflecting on these instincts. Getting clear about mission is not that easy when we have the luxury of debating Sunday school formats and staffing models and the introduction of a praise band. I know, as this is a major part of my work with churches — discerning strategic directions and finding holy purpose that enables creativity, agility, and joy. But when life is routine, our preferences so cloud our ability to stay close to the vital center of Jesus’s heart. 
This moment is an opportunity to reclaim what is seminal to our faith.  Leadership teams in churches may care to ponder these questions: 
  • what does this moment reveal about the nature of the body of Christ?
  • what does this moment clarify about our purpose?
  • what can we do now to live out that purpose?
We find rich information in the instincts churches have had this week.  I have observed that clergy and church leaders were driven by the purpose of being a community that worships together, prays for the hurting, and gives essential nourishment and voice to the wider whole.  
With the sharp focus of this moment we might actually find our passions and purpose clarified in ways that will help us to be adaptive, not only to the moment but for the larger and more sweeping cultural shifts. What we learn about ourselves now may enable us to be more agile, creative, risk-taking and innovative when life settles into a new norm. 
See, church can be in radically new forms!  What an amazing display of ingenuity this has been.
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