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SEAN MORGAN
Interim Director
Leadership Network

We are all hearing stories of how churches have relaunched services.  Some have reopened with great success, and perhaps others are finding themselves frustrated with mostly empty parking lots and rooms.

Whatever it is you’re planning in the coming months, it’s clear that, though God’s people want to regather and be together, some will need more time before they actually do so.

At the appropriate time, you’ll undoubtedly make a well-informed decision about your church.

I want to offer you some insight that will help you succeed as you do this:

1. REALIZE EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED

The world has changed, and we are only beginning to grasp the first 10% of it all.

Don’t make the tragic error of assuming things will get back to normal and that you can simply wait around to restart your old routines.

You’ll be disappointed if you do, but more than that, you’ll have missed out on critical opportunities to succeed.

2020 brought COVID, but it also brought an underlying fear-driven culture of suspicion that proximity to others will kill us.  This will take several years to grow out of, and some will never see the world in quite the same way.

2020 brought racial, political, and cultural unrest and division as we’ve never seen in our lifetimes. I won’t go into detail here, but just acknowledge that it has made a massive impact on us all.

We’ve all also undergone personal and professional changes that are stacked on top of all the rest.

Considering all this, it would be a mistake to hope that everything you were doing pre-2020 can be restarted in just the same way.

2. ACKNOWLEDGE MUCH OF YOUR CHURCH NEEDED A REBOOT ANYWAY

Yes, the good old “CTRL – ALT – DEL”.

I’d humbly suggest that the majority of your ministry programs pre-2020 were already losing momentum and, likely, several ministries were completely tanking.

That’s not a fun word to describe aspects of worship services and local church ministry, but I’ve found it to be true.  [Why this is true and how we can fix it is another blog or even a book entirely.]

Humans, in general, are bad at constructive criticism.  Church leaders are worse.  We tend to feel like we’re calling somebody’s baby ugly if we point out a weakness or issue with a ministry they’re involved in.

I’m going on a bit of a tangent here—suffice it to say, the eventual relaunch of your church gatherings is a great time to rebuild with a fresh set of eyes, and it’s overdue.

3. [THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART] YOU'LL NEED MARGIN

Have you ever noticed what urban developers do in order to make things new?

In urban areas, there is only one way to begin…they have to tear down.  They must tear down the old to make room for the new.

As a leader in an established church, you are just like an urban developer!

If you already have a full schedule, you simply do not have the time you need to do new things.

If your staff already has a full schedule, they simply do not have the time to do new things.

If your budget is already full, you simply do not have the money to invest in new things.

If your org chart is already full, you simply do not have room for new people who will do new things.

So what do you need to do?

Exactly. You’ll need to create massive amounts of margin.

You’ll need to tear a few things down.

This is difficult for most leaders.

However…

If you reference #2 above, you’ll be reassured that there are some things that were plateaued, declining, and tanking anyway.  Those are the precise areas that you need to tear down.

The encouragement here is that this is what leaders do!

Leaders see the momentum upward that eventually begins to plateau, and we begin dreaming about what will replace it.

Then, when things assuredly begin that subtle decline, leaders help others see the decline, too, and leaders help others get on board with the changes that are necessary.

Although I cannot predict what future church will look like, these simple steps of creating margin are necessary precursors to rebuilding.  You must tear a few things down to create the margin to do new things.

  • What needs to be torn down in your schedule and how you manage your time?
  • What needs to be torn down in helping your team manage their time and schedules?
  • What needs to be torn down in your budget?
  • What areas of your org chart are not producing fruit and need to be torn down?
    • How do you redeploy those people in new ministry ventures?
    • Could volunteers do what you are currently paying staff to do?

Honestly answering these questions will ensure you are nimble enough to react and build as you relaunch.

Until next week, Grace & Peace.

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