Pictured: Panel discussion with Pastors Tim Buzan (Blue Springs, MO), Jim Capaldo (Converge Heartland District Office), Steve Krier (Fargo/Moorhead metro area), Kyle Campise (Ord, NE), Ben Payne (Mitchell, SD), Mark Dickson (Salem, SD), and not pictured - Mike Friesen (Omaha, NE)
COVID-19 has required congregations to adapt their ministry methods, extend grace, and to streamline budgets. Most churches have sustained in the face of such changes, but what will it be like as our congregations begin to physically meet again? A geographically representative panel of Converge Heartland ministry leaders came together to discuss this topic, and here is the refined summary of that meeting. The following are 11 practical insights that you and your church leaders are strongly encouraged consider for your church’s ongoing ministry in the forthcoming post-pandemic context.
MISSION DRIVEN AGILITY: Going forward, churches must determine what ministry methods work best in their context. However, those church members and leaders who are aligned with their church’s mission more than their church’s traditions will experience the necessary grace, freedom, and unity for exploring and embracing new methods that work in their context.
LOCAL OUTREACH: As communities have grown closer, congregations will need to place higher ministry and budgetary priority on relational outreach within their local context. This will likely result in many church leaders and mission teams reviewing and re-prioritizing their supported ministry partnerships.
CHURCH COMMUNICATION: High congregational communication expectations will remain the norm. Therefore, churches will need to emphasize communication quality, consistency, church data management, online presence, and the development of their church “brand” recognition.
CHURCH FELLOWSHIP: COVID-19 has revealed that the one thing that cannot be virtually replaced is physical human interaction. Sermons can be delivered via video but congregational fellowship cannot. Going forward, churches will need to facilitate, celebrate, and allow for more congregational involvement and interaction during their congregational gatherings.
CHURCH FINANCES: Urban churches are experiencing 15% to 25% decline in giving and rural churches are experiencing a 25% to 35% decline in giving. Budgets have been streamlined for sustainability and will likely remain streamlined going forward. Volunteer efforts and lower-cost contractual services will likely be sought to fill necessary operational gaps. Three areas of budget increase will likely be to ensure you have a quality audio/video recording capacity, increased communication capacity, and to ensure the sanitization of your church’s facilities.
ONLINE GIVING: The Heartland District is perhaps the last bastion of American check-writing cultures! We are aware that many churches had online giving options before the COVID-19 social restrictions were enforced but there were also many that did not. Online giving options have become a necessity especially as use of cash is fading out for sanitary reasons. All churches need to equip attendees and members for online giving options such as ACH transfers, online bill pay, debit/credit cards, etc. Furthermore, churches need to make budgetary provision for the fees associated with online giving. If you need help with this, please call the District Office.
COUNSELING: This pandemic has overwhelmed many families, individuals, and marriages. Ministry services such as Grief Share, Divorce Care, Financial Peace University, and local Biblical counseling services or solid counseling recommendations will be important for both your congregation and community in the wake of this pandemic season.
VIRTUAL MEETINGS: It has become clear that online meeting venues work, can be more time efficient, and are sustainable for certain types of church meetings. Be prepared to continue using online video platforms for various meetings as well as for certain trainings and transfer of ministry content.
FOSTERING & ADOPTING CHURCHES: Some congregations have greatly struggled through the pandemic and need a church(es) to come along side of them for revitalization or to restart. Fostering or adopting such a church in your area can become a momentum building kingdom effort with eternal ramifications. Keep your eyes, ears and hearts open to such opportunities! Please call Jim Capaldo at the Converge Heartland District office if you are aware of such an opportunity - (833) 285-8488.
INCREASED WORSHIP SERVICE OPTIONS: We are not certain when social distance restrictions will fully disappear. Until then, churches need to prepare their gatherings for social distance realities. Though some churches are philosophically opposed to this concept, in order to legally accommodate your congregational size, you may need to offer multiple worship services and not on weekends only. Be prepared to maintain six-feet between family units and be sure to evaluate your community expectations as well as your congregational convictions, norms and needs in light of these ongoing restrictions.
DELEGATION & DISCIPLESHIP: Many churches have been confronted with an unrealistic over-dependence on pastoral and church staff. Delegation, equipping, and releasing people to use their skills and passions will be increasingly necessary, especially in the area of congregational care. Not the least of these areas should be the intentional equipping of parents to serve as the primary disciplers and spiritual leaders of their own children and teenagers.
Jim Capaldo, Regional President
Jim Capaldo is Converge Heartland Regional President.