the shape of leadership

Five Ways COVID-19 Is Changing Church

Some shifts are likely here to stay

Kent Ingle on June 1, 2020

The global pandemic has drastically changed the way we live our lives. COVID-19 is leading to innovations in the business world — and in the Church.

Church leaders have been forced to find new ways of ministering, pastoring, and engaging their communities. And some of the changes are likely here to stay.

No doubt, many are eager to return to the former ways of doing church. In a blog posted by the digital giving app, Paul Maxwell wrote, “The world has been setting churches up for this transition for a long time — and it would have happened, COVID-19 or not.”

Maxwell and others predict this pandemic will significantly alter the way churches function for the foreseeable future. While many of us miss the relational dynamics of in-person services, online church has transformed how we minister, where we attend, and whom we reach.

Here are five changes that are likely to have lasting effects on church ministry:

1. Churches are becoming more tech-savvy. Many churches that didn’t have a digital presence have already learned how to make their services accessible online. Some churches are much more technologically focused than others. Still, after COVID-19, technology will be more essential to all church leaders. These changes have been a long time coming, but now the Church as a whole faces this shift together.

2. More people are attending online. In a short time, looking for a church service has become more like looking for a show to stream on a Friday night. Even as restrictions ease, that may not change right away. People are still warming up to the idea of going back to eat at their favorite restaurant. They may be even more hesitant to gather in churches — or any place where there are crowds.

There is always a need for hope, faith and the healing love of Jesus Christ.

We will likely find that many who previously attended in-person will choose to attend online, at least for a while. In addition, many first-time visitors will probably tune in online before they walk through the doors of a church.

3. Online engagement is expanding beyond Sunday services. Many churches are already finding ways to promote fellowship in a time of social distancing. The small groups that have been on pause are realizing they can still gather on Zoom or another platform for community and discipleship.

4. Churches are becoming more collaborative. Being virtual gives churches the opportunity to minister and lead alongside one another. Churches can more easily share resources, such as guest speakers. Such partnerships have the potential to expand the influence of the Church.

5. Church ministry is becoming more focused on relationships and discipleship. For decades, churches have offered endless programs and events, keeping our congregations busy but not always helping people grow as disciples of Christ. Abrupt as they may have been, recent changes have helped us focus on what is most important — including developing the faith and biblical knowledge of individuals.

There is always a need for hope, faith and the healing love of Jesus Christ. But some other needs are shifting, and our places of worship are shifting to meet those needs.

The church may be swiftly changing before our very eyes, but it doesn’t change God’s plans, nor does it change the calling He has placed on the lives of pastors and ministry leaders. Jesus has equipped His church for such a time as this.

Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Whether we are meeting virtually or in person, we can be sure His work of building is still in progress.

For many leaders, ministering in a tech-forward fashion can be a hurdle that seems overwhelming, but it has become a vital tool in ministering God’s love and presence to a hurting and broken world.

Particularly in such desperate times of need, we can never underestimate how God will choose to pour out His Spirit or how He will build His Church.

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