For decades we have heard of the importance of the life mission statement sometimes referred to as a personal mantra or life purpose idea. But do you really need one? Can a simple[...]
Right now the church faces a more acute, immediate challenge than any it has faced in a long time: how to "do church" during the coronavirus pandemic. We are literally doing church on the fly. After the President's announcement yesterday most churches are now preparing for at least eight weeks of no worship gatherings or programs of any kind at the church. This includes 2020 Easter services!
In the last week we have been bombarded with fear and uncertainty. Rightly so, the church has collectively voiced its "faith over fear" message. In responsive fashion many churches went to streaming and online services last weekend. We don't know how long this dislocation will last. So as each day unfolds with continuing uncertainty, how does the church leader think beyond initial panic control and online tactics?
By the way, most of our content platforms will hover there for a while. Each day you will continue to receive "leading in crisis wisdom," much of which is either simplistic advice or generic bravado. Opportunistically all of the technology solutions will stay front and center as we update, improve and implement digital gathering and giving practices. But, I ask again, how do we think well through the short-term and midterm implications of our disciple-making mission amidst the COVID-19 virus crisis?
As each day unfolds with continuing uncertainty, how does the church leader think beyond initial panic control and online tactics?
The problem could be stated this way: since church involves getting together, how do we do church when we can't get together?
On top of leaders' concerns for the physical health of their people, the crisis raises ominous challenges for the church's welfare like dark thunderclouds on the horizon:
- Will our people slide into apathy without a regular connection to worship and small group?
- Will giving plummet and force us into serious budget, salary, and staff cuts?
- Will we go without Easter services and miss this year's growth target?
To overcome these challenges, leaders are putting all the creativity they can muster into devising tactics that solve the problem. They're looking at how to shape their services and spaces to assure attenders that they need not fear infection. They're looking at how to use technology to send the worship experience into people's homes, to keep small groups running virtually, and to keep giving flowing.
This tactical planning is essential. But I want to suggest something more. What if COVID-19 is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for leaders to think more strategically about doing church? What if this is the perfect time to think about the church's disciple-making mission at a higher level for a longer term future?
If people increased their giving to churches right now, what would that kind of church look like?
A few additional questions raise our sights to a higher place:
- If people increased their giving to churches right now, what would that kind of church look like?
- What is the crisis revealing about the true state of disciple-making in our church?
- How much is the Coronavirus season accelerating our experience of what was already in our future?
- Do we have a clear definition of what kind of disciple our church is designed to produce?
- Is digital connection between people as diminished of a connection as we thought?
- How can we leverage forced disruption to be more creative and more effective?
- What are creative ways to dramatically humanize virtual ministry?
- How can online worship do a better job of disciple-making than how we did brick and mortar worship?
- How do we refresh and renovate the value proposition of the church to believers today?
- How do we measure church engagement in new ways?
How do we think well through the short-term and midterm implications of our disciple-making mission amidst the Covid-19 virus crisis?
How do you even begin to approach big questions like these?
That's why I wrote Innovating Discipleship 10 years ago.
The original context was to help churches innovate after they created their Vision Frame. After years of good implementation how do you keep things fresh? How do you adapt ministry to reach more people? How do you infuse outdated programs with new meaning? How do you create totally new ministry initiatives from scratch?
But the current moment requires this thinking like never before. Now everyone is forced to innovate, whether or not you wanted to or were prepared for it.
Therefore to encourage leaders at this pivotal time, I am offering my book Innovating Discipleship—my highest-rated book ever on Amazon—as a FREE PDF download for the first time. Innovating Discipleship provides a simple but powerful master tool for rethinking your church's ministry strategy in two dimensions—first, the results you're aiming at and second, the engagement strategy you use to produce them.
If for no other reason, download this resource for the list of 16 super questions for ministry innovation. These questions alone will add value to your leadership.
Click here for this unprecedented FREE giveaway. Talk it over as a team, and advance the mission of Jesus in this cultural moment. If you prefer a hard copy of the book, you may purchase one on Amazon.
Upcoming Free Equipping Events During the Coronavirus Crisis
I will be working with Dave Rhodes and Kelly Kannwischer through our Younique ministry to bring two more unprecedented opportunities:
FREE LIFE DESIGN COURES: First, we are giving away a $180 online experience totally free to help people take "Journey 1" of our Life Design course. This offer is good for one week through midnight on March 27. The giveaway is call "It's My Time- Journey 1 Online." We simply want to help people invest their new discretionary time in the most important way possible—naming why God put you on earth. Get it here.
FREE 8-WEEK STAFF MEETING FRAMEWORK : Second, Dave and I will be leading several free webinars to launch an Open National Staff Meeting for Church Leaders on Mondays at noon EST. The initiative is called "From Frantic to Framework." Click here to register.
DAILY BETTER FUTURE WEBINAR: In addition, I will be working with Jim Randall and Bryan Rose through the Auxano team to bring an amazing daily webinar for inspiration and training around adapting ministry and the content of Innovating Discipleship. Check it out here. Our entire team will be sharing principles from the Innovating Discipleship book and sharing the best stories from the front lines of ministry.