What is A New Normal? Core Issues for Churches in a Post-COVID-19 World

“Unstuck” is the name of a church consulting firm that specializes in helping churches get “unstuck.” Hence, the name! Also, perhaps not a bad name for a church! Unstuck does a lot of research on the future of churches and what the critical issues will be as churches attempt to move forward in a Post-COVID 19 world.

Recently, on they’re website, they posted an updated list of the 5 “core issues” that churches consistently rank the highest. Here are the results, with a few comments about each one. As you read them, see if you think they pertain to our future here at Vine Street, and if we are doing enough to address the issue, or need to be doing more.

1) Digital Ministry Strategy

Churches are trying to figure out how to establish a digital ministry strategy that connects with people outside the church and outside the faith. And, they also want to provide online experiences for people who are already connected to the church.

The biggest challenge? Churches are beginning to realize they need a new team creating content and experiences targeted specifically to an online audience. It’s one more example of how a change in strategy requires churches to also consider a change in structure.

2) Family Ministry

Churches are starting to recognize that reaching young adults is critical to the future of their ministries, and more and more churches are beginning to prioritize ministry to these young families. Some churches are trying to equip and partner with parents—both those parents who are single and those who are married. 

By the way, kids don’t drive themselves to church. So, churches who want to reach kids for Jesus are prioritizing creating in-person and online experiences that their parents want to engage with, as well. This is probably the number one priority of an effective ministry to kids.

3) Discipleship Pathway

Churches are having difficulty creating a solid and simple discipleship path to help regular attendees, as well as newcomers, take next steps in their walk with Christ.

Many churches have an overwhelming number of programs available, but no cohesive path that helps people learn which steps to take and when. Those churches that do have a clear track for spiritual formation, often don’t include a specific step to encourage relational evangelism. 

4) Outreach Strategy

For many churches, their outreach strategy either involved serving in the community with the hope that the people who were being served would take a next step toward Jesus. Or, they hoped people would invite their friends to attend a worship service. 

Yes, we should serve people. And yes, we should continue to invite people to church. But churches are recognizing outreach needs to look different going forward. 

Unstuck encourages churches to use a two-pronged approach. The first focus is a relational evangelism strategy to encourage people in the church to reach the people God has put in their daily lives. Secondly, we encourage the use of an online engagement strategy to provide content and experiences that engage with people who are outside the church and outside the faith.

5) Communications

Churches often identify two challenges related to communications. First, they don’t have an intentional communications strategy to connect with the person they’re trying to reach. Secondly, they indicated there’s a communication gap internally with the people who are already a part of the church. 

This second challenge is often linked to the lack of a clear discipleship path. Without that, ministry programs and events begin to compete with each other for people’s time and attention. When that happens, there’s always a sense among both the staff and the congregation that it’s a communications problem…when in many cases it’s a complexity problem.

Now, I realize that much of what Unstuck offers to churches is technology and communications focused. Thus, they have a particular bias. But, nevertheless, I found these 5 core issues fascinating because of the resonance they have with so many of the discussions going on right now in our church. 

If you’re able to look past the consulting jargon, I think there are some really profound points here that we need to bear in mind as we all move forward together … into our own “New Normal.”

May Peace Abound, and Light Cover Your World!                                                                 

Pastor Bob