the shape of leadership

Five Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Ministry

Churches are finding new ways to serve their communities

Influence Magazine on April 24, 2020

Things are different right now. Different can be good, but it’s also a disruption. When it comes to church, there has been a radical shift in how to do ministry.

With stay-at-home orders in many states and counties across the nation, church is disrupted. But ministry is not interrupted.

Here are five ways churches have overcome hurdles and increased their influence:

1. Livestreaming Services

The need for social distancing has disrupted regular weekend services of nearly every church in America. But that has not translated into decreased attendance.

According to Barna Group, 97% of U.S. churches are now providing livestreaming of their services. More than 4 in 10 churches (44%) say their online attendance is greater than their previous in-person gatherings, while 17% say it is about the same.

What this means when stay-at-home orders are lifted is anyone’s guess. For now, though, the reach of the gospel may be as wide as it’s ever been.

2. Online and Social Media Presence

Now more than ever, pastors are staying connected with their congregations online. What might have been sporadic videos or messages highlighting important events are now regular updates and daily prayers.

Many small groups have also moved online. Members are gathering for Zoom calls with their friends. Some churches are even hosting women’s groups or parenting classes online.

3. Serving Immediate Needs

The pandemic has not only disrupted public gatherings, it’s also caused a hardship on most non-essential employees. The demand for food and services for the unemployed has increased at an alarming rate. At the same time, social distancing has made it more difficult for those in need to get help.

Crises have a way of increasing the inventiveness of Jesus’ servants.

Churches have responded to this disruption by offering drive-through food banks or delivering bags of groceries to doorsteps. Crises have a way of increasing the inventiveness of Jesus’ servants.

4. New Styles of Evangelism

What was once fairly simple has taken on new forms of complexity. During this time, church members can’t invite their unsaved friends to a physical service. However, they can reach out to them digitally.

By hosting watch parties on Facebook, church members can now invite all of their friends, regardless of location, to join them for worship.

Despite the inability to talk face-to-face with others, our interaction can still make a difference in people’s lives. While out on a walk, neighbors are generally more friendly when they see someone else. And unsaved people are now more open than ever to spiritual matters.

The gospel has never been constrained by distance or circumstances, and this is no exception.

5. Members Doing Ministry

Livestreaming of worship happens in homes. That means churches are taking something that many have always associated with one building and moved it to every building around the community. And each parent or person becomes a worship leader.

At the heart of the Protestant Reformation was the idea of the “priesthood of all believers.” That has become more relevant and clear in these days.

Pastors are not able to be present with every believer. But the Holy Spirit is. And church people are stepping up not only to worship on their own, but to lead their families like never before.

The disruption can feel awkward and uncomfortable. But from these challenges have come new ways to do church with high impact.

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