From here on it will be different.
With 9-11 … most of us watched and experienced the horror of the World Trade Center destruction. While many experienced that loss and maybe even knew of someone that was lost, most of us watched it from afar.
With Corona-virus… all of us, all around the globe, are experiencing the pandemic in real, life-altering ways. From Chico to Kazakstan, to Hong Kong, to San Francisco, to Durban to State College to Birmingham to London and beyond… all of us, at this same moment, have been told to “Shelter in Place.” We are all together in this, in real-time. We are all changing… together.
Life and ministry will not be the same from here forward. It will be different.
While a vaccine will hopefully be put in place to bring a halt to the spread of COVD-19, and help to return us to some normalcy, its effect has been to connect us in new ways, align us in different ways and challenge our thinking in down new paths. This means we will never be able to go back.
How different will it be? Yet to be determined. Life is being re-written every day as we wake up to the new realities.
But… we can begin the process of reflection. Here are five ways things will be different as I listen to and coach with leaders from all over the world.
There is absolutely no question… with all those I have talked to… this moment in time is a “game-changer!”
A New Kind of Different
(1) Online is here to stay... and now will challenge everything including the need to be onsite. While platforms like Zoom were continuing to grow under the radar, there now is no putting online back in the box. Teams, prayer groups, classes, meetings, workshops, and training are/will be done online in the future, no matter whether people are interacting with those around the block or around the globe.
(2) Connection and conversation will rival the need for more information and could become why we gather and need to be together. Information can be gotten in multiple locations through a variety of sources, but the processing of information and listening to other practitioners cannot. The new role for leaders is that of “hosting.” Creating “spaces and safe-places” for connection and conversation. The role of the leaders will more to coach and catalyzer, as opposed to being seen as the primary dispenser of information and vision.
(3) New realities will begin to push past the rigidity of those who have been protecting current forms. It is a matter of sheer inertia… as those which now have seen new approaches and realities come front and center, they will by-pass those who want us to return to the same. The ramifications of this could be huge for the church and the new missional expressions that sit off in the wings if we chose to “seize the day.” For many years, many have been wanting a different church.
(4) The Studio… in the future… for pastors could begin to rival the pulpit (Len Sweet) as place of influence. Because of increased technology and bandwidth, gathering in large groups is no longer tied to the onsite auditorium presentation. Groups of 100-300-1000… even more can now gather online to worship, pray, listen and can use breakouts for those attending to interact and discuss. Small, tech-savvy studios can and will rival large, public venues and stages for dispensing of ideation.
(5) House churches, local, neighborhood missional groups and networks of smaller groups will be more and more the place for authentic gatherings of believers. Those who “are the church” in a local parish will now gather in greater frequency as they meet to “do the church.” Less and less will be they need the big gathering to feel/know they are connected to the Church as a whole. House churches allow for “not forsaking” the gathering with others… but the online allows for larger connect with The Church around the world and with ministries / issues they care most about. The “common union” of the small allows for a more intimate sharing of the “communion” with those hungry to see/be the church.
We are living in a moment when history is being re-written. We are living in the midst of the almost… but not yet.
What we know now is a fraction of what will be reality in the days ahead. But what is certain… is that together we are headed to a new kind of different. Stay tuned.