This blog article is part 3 in a 3-part series examining the impact of covid on America’s churches

In part two of this blog series we looked at how churches in general and church leadership in particular were dealing with the pandemic from two specific standpoints – community engagement and generosity. The insights we found painted a pleasantly surprising picture of the ministerial landscape in our nation that portrayed a Church that was far more optimistic about the future than most would expect. This third and final part in the series continues in that same vein as we shed additional light on the Church in America that, while down, is not by any means out. In fact, the Church in this nation seems poised to rise from the ashes of the covid firestorm and emerge into a new evangelical paradigm.

Churches in America have suffered something of an identity crisis over the last two years as a result of covid. The ministerial status quo has been broken without regard to denomination and in the process, the spiritual mettle of both congregants and church leadership has been put to the test. Moreover, church leaders are beginning to come to the realization that no matter how badly we all want it, no matter how hard we pray for it, there is simply no going back to how things were for our ministries in 2019 and prior. “We’re trying to figure out who we are as a church, who’s still with us, who’s on mission,” says Doug Parks, Co-Founder and CEO of Intentional Churches in Las Vegas. “We have to stop talking about ‘going back’. We have to begin to say, ‘here’s where we are at now, here’s the reality and we’ve got to right-size and start thinking like this {as church leadership].”

Envisioning the Church in an (Eventually) Post-Covid World

With that in mind, the question becomes, at least in part, what does a new church paradigm look like? How do we as the Body of Christ in America, particularly church leadership, envision our ministries in a world that has endured a pandemic in the modern era? One viewpoint, although not especially popular, surrounds the possibility of taking churches into the Metaverse and establishing an entirely new worship environment in the virtual world. A few churches are already taking practical steps toward making such a transition but most, according to Pastor Parks, are not interested in heading in that direction. “By trying to transition the Church from reality into virtual reality, I think we’re getting way too far ahead of ourselves. The vast majority of church leaders are just trying to get back to ‘blocking and tackling’.” That is to say, the pandemic has relegated church leadership to simply trying to maintain the fundamentals of church ministry and congregational and community engagement, almost as though they’re starting from scratch in an operational sense.

Pastor Parks also recalled a recent conversation he had with Jud Wilhite, senior pastor of Central Church in Las Vegas, a powerhouse ministry with a congregation of over 30,000 and campuses in the United States and Australia. Pastor Wilhite remarked, “I know it’s earth shattering, but we’re baking cookies for our neighbors again. Prior to covid, I had security detail around me in the lobby after services while greeting our congregants. Now I’m working without the security detail and giving out my personal cell number to members just as a means to encourage engagement.” For the Church in America, getting through covid and establishing a strong, inspiring vision for our churches in the eventual post-covid world starts with getting back to basics.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Church in America – and really the entire Body of Christ worldwide – has been exposed, but that exposure has been mostly to ourselves. And, to be sure, it can absolutely work to our benefits as a corporate Body and as individual church ministries. We’ve been forced to take along hard look at ourselves in the mirror as ministers of the Gospel and admit some rather unpleasant truths, not the least of which is our approach to soul winning. Prior to covid, we had drifted toward the institutional mindset that it’s the church name or the building or the brand that wins people to Christ. We got away from the Truth that it isn’t buildings and brands that save souls. It is the Holy Spirit who wins souls through the work of God’s people in engagement with the lost. It took a pandemic to remind us of that and get us back to the fundamental reason we belong to the Church in the first place – to minister the Gospel to the lost through the mouthpiece of the unconditional love of Christ.

The road ahead isn’t clear yet, but it is clearing. The future of our churches here in America is bright. God has not left us because He promised He never would (Hebrews 13:5). And so we begin on this new road ahead toward a better Church in America and across the world, wounded but healing, humbled but optimistic, and with the full confidence that we will continue our Mission with each other for support and our Almighty Heavenly Father and His only begotten Son leading our way.

If you are looking for ways to better transition your church ministry into the post-covid era, let the Catalyst Ministry Solutions team give you a helping hand. Click here and let’s discuss how we can be of assistance to you and your church. We’re heading toward a new day in the Body of Christ and our team knows that the only way to get there is together.

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Steve Widmer
Steve is Principal at Catalyst Ministry Solutions. CMS exists to help churches, schools, and non-profits create the roadmap to reach their next level of impact. Steve brings 20+ years of success as a leader in Corporate America and 15 years working on staff in church leadership and consulting with churches in the areas of generosity, leadership, and staff development.