How Well Are We Positioned for the Future?
by Pastor Chris Weichman
Is there a split in the future church ahead? Carey Nieuwhof opens with this question in her blog post, The Coming Church Split (It’s Not What You Think). “Unfortunately, I think the answer is yes. It’s not your typical (and usually awful) church split about doctrine, polity, personality or the color of the carpet. It’s bigger than that, and for the most part, you won’t even realize it’s happening until you look back a few years from now and see what took place.”
As the post-pandemic world takes shape, there is an emerging divide between churches that are well-positioned for the future and churches that are not. The disruption of 2020 and beyond catapulted churches into the digital age, ready or not. For many pastors, elders and members, online worship lies somewhere between a necessary evil, an unfortunate necessity, and a service offered for people who can’t get there for the “real thing.” If this is how we understand the changes we are in the midst of, in all likelihood, we are going to have a difficult future ahead of us.
There are two types of change that are necessary to move into an uncertain future: technical change and adaptive change. The Evangelism committee of Main Street Presbyterian Church wants to reach out to the neighborhood. They decide to buy a new electronic sign to promote their programs and invite the neighbors to worship. That is technical change. The Evangelism committee at Central Presbyterian Church learns through trial and error how to reach out to neighbors and invites other church members to join them. As they get to know their neighbors, they invite them to a midweek cookout in the community park. That is adaptive change. Technical
change is easy; adaptive change is difficult. It is difficult because it requires a change in mindset and behavior. We continually need to learn how to be a neighbor.
First Covenant made several changes during the pandemic: Online worship was added. We changed Monty Service’s position to include worship technology. We will replace a traditional Administrative Assistant position with a Communication Associate. A position that will concentrate on communicating with the church and the community via the bulletin, the Chimes newsletter, the webpage, and social media. These are necessary to continue to engage members and visitors online, in our neighborhood and community.
Every church has a choice to make. We can long for the way it used to be. We can ignore the changes needed to engage members and community. Or we can step into reality and make the technical and adaptive changes to love our neighbors.
– Pastor Chris