Recovery Plan – Part 4: Questions And Implications

This week I’ve been blogging about our Welcome Church Recovery Plan for 2021, following the pandemic. This is Part 4, the final post in the series. If you missed the other posts please read them first. You can find the first one by clicking here.

As the vaccine is rolled out and normal life returns again, we need a plan to help us recover as a church. I talked yesterday about how our Recovery Plan is built around three ‘R’s: Renew, Refresh, Rebuild (click here to read it)

The plan does raise some questions, including …

  • What does our church diary look like for the year ahead?
  • What activities do we restart and when?
  • Are there enough people ready and willing to make them happen?
  • What activities do we delay restarting?
  • What activities did we do before that pandemic that we choose never to restart?
  • What current (lockdown) activities do we stop as normal life returns and when?
  • What is our strategy for restarting ‘in person’ Sunday meetings?
  • When will kids work restart in person?
  • What about youth work?
  • What might the future of online church life look like? 
  • What events might we choose to keep as online events in the longer term?
  • Should we have a ‘relaunch’ of our new building? 
  • When will we reopen the church offices?
  • What staff roles will we recruit to join our employed team?
  • What volunteer roles do we need to fill?
  • What outreach activities will we do and when?
  • What Welcome Works should we restart and when?
  • What fun/social activities should we do?
  • How do we help people who’ve experienced loss during the pandemic?
  • How do we help people who have ongoing health issues as a result, including mental and emotional health issues?
  • How do we help people who are facing financial challenges following the pandemic?
  • AND SO MANY MORE!

The plan also has some implications …

1. We need to think carefully about what we do and when

  • Let’s not assume we’ll all step back into the same roles in church life that we had before the pandemic – though I’m sure (and I hope) that many people will 🙂
  • Let’s not assume that just because we were running a certain activity as a church before the pandemic it must automatically restart afterwards – we need to consider each activity carefully
  • Let’s not assume that the things we restart will be delivered in the same way they were before the pandemic – some things may be delivered very differently, and perhaps some will now be done online
  • Let’s not assume that the things we restart must all restart immediately – some things will need to be done before others

As we plan let’s also remember that we’re a medium sized church with a certain amount of resources in terms of people, skills and finances and that we’re in recovery from a global event described by the Prime Minister as “the greatest challenge our nation has faced since the Second World War”.

2. Every leader should consider how “Renew, Refresh, Rebuild” applies to the areas they are responsible for

What could this approach mean for the way your Life Group runs? What could it mean for the kids work? The youth work? The worship team? Prayer meetings? Encounter? In fact every area of church life needs to be considered. As a team we will be available to help leaders think it through and plan appropriately.

3. We need to aim for a church diary that’s a bit less packed this year

Before the pandemic our church diary was packed with activities, but a return to normal life will place extra demands on every area of our lives. We may find that work, family and social life all put significantly increased pressure on our diaries.

As a church we want to recognise this challenge, and not make it worse with a long list of extra demands, perhaps mistakenly seeking to make up for ground lost during the pandemic. We want our church to be a place of refreshing and restoration, not of demand and duty. This means that what we do and how often we do it needs careful thought.

4. We each need to actively prioritise time together for fun and relaxation, as well as for worship and ministry

Recovery is not the only thing that takes time; rebuilding our relationships with one another will take time too. We may have a church diary that’s a bit less packed, but let’s still try to prioritise time with our church family at an individual level, at a Life Group level and at a whole church level this year. When we’re allowed to, we’ll aim to put on some whole church events that have no ministry purpose beyond hanging out, having fun and being a family together. We need them.

Let’s also try to prioritise our Sunday meetings and our Life Groups. These two things are like the two wings of a bird: both are essential for our wellbeing. During these times , as we start to meet together in person again, we’ll be seeking to meet with God, to worship and to minister to one another, looking to encounter his presence and find healing and restoration wherever it’s needed. 

5. We need to remember that the goal is RECOVERY

I would describe our church at the moment by using a football analogy: right now we’re probably not spiritually or emotionally “match fit”. Coming out of lockdown at full speed when the unlock whistle blows, and trying to play a full 90 minutes at top level is not going to help us. It could cause injuries and disappointment and it could damage what we can achieve over the long term. We need to recover our match fitness first.

Some of us will come out of the pandemic feeling fully refreshed and raring to go; for most there will be a process of restoration and recovery. Let’s make sure we look out for one another this year, and take the time we need to get back to a place of strength where we feel “match fit” again and ready to go.

Let’s also remember that God is not limited! He loves to respond when we step out in faith, and He is going to do good things in and through us in 2021. He may even do some new and unexpected things.

So that’s out approach to 2021: RENEW, REFRESH, REBUILD – as a pathway towards RECOVERY

Recovery Plan – Part 3: Renew, Refresh, Rebuild

This week I’m blogging about our Welcome Church Recovery Plan for 2021, following the pandemic. This post is Part 3 of a short series. If you missed the other posts, please read those first. You can find the first one by clicking here.

Although we’re currently in another lockdown, we’re expecting to go through a gradual process of returning to normal life this year as more and more people are vaccinated.

In Part 1 of this short series I talked about how, as we return to normal life again, our return to church life needs to feel like coming home, and not be done in a way that places unrealistic demands on people.

In part 2 I talked about some key challenges we face and about how this year we need to ask not “What CAN we do?”, but “What SHOULD we do?” I also talked about how, following the challenges of the pandemic, being together in person as a church is going to be more important than ever.

So how are we going to approach this year?

As a team we’ve prayerfully put together our Welcome Church Recovery Plan. The plan isn’t a schedule of activities or a list of SMART goals for the year; it’s a description of the ethos we want to adopt this year as a church; the sort of culture we want to build. The plan is built around three ‘R’s – Renew, Refresh, Rebuild.

The three ‘R’s’ will form the back-bone of our year, and will underpin and give shape to our pastoring, our planning, our preaching and our programmes. Let’s look at them one at a time:

Renew: a focus on relationship/people, including …

  • Renewal of a vibrant and meaningful relationship with Jesus
  • Renewal of our sense of ‘sonship/daughterhood’ before our Heavenly Father
  • Renewal of our emotional health and well being
  • Renewal of a Biblical pattern of church life together (see Acts 2v42-47)
  • Renewal of friendship, of fun and of a sense of adventure together

Refresh: a focus on our vision/strategy, including …

  • Refreshing our understanding of God’s plans and purposes for His church
  • Refreshing our vision and mission as Welcome Church
  • Refreshing our “rhythms of life” as a church; what we do weekly, termly and annually
  • Refreshing our approach to “whole life discipleship”
  • Refreshing our individual, God given sense of purpose and calling

Rebuild: a focus on tasks/doing, including …

  • Rebuilding our Holy Spirit filled, leadership faith for the mission
  • Rebuilding our Welcome Church staff team to full strength, in every way
  • Rebuilding our core meetings and ministries
  • Rebuilding our ministry teams and serving roles
  • Rebuilding our presence in the community

To put it in a sentence:

“In 2021, as we unlock, we will aim to RENEW our relationships with God and with one another, to REFRESH our vision and our strategy, and to REBUILD our core church ministries and our faith for the mission”

This will help us achieve a fourth ‘R’: RECOVERY

This is a recovery plan to help us recover from the challenges of the pandemic and find fresh faith and momentum for the future. The goal is that Jesus is glorified in us and that the Great Commission moves ahead through us as we step out in faith. God has big plans for our church in the years ahead, so let’s get ready.

Tomorrow in the final part of this short series I will consider some of the questions our plan raises and some of the implications of it.

Life Group Refresh

‘Belonging’ is really important to us at Welcome Church, and our Life Groups help make this a reality.

In a church of our size you can’t know everyone, but everyone can be known, and our Life Groups provide a chance to gather with a small group of people to experience fun, care, connection and spiritual growth. Currently the groups are happening online, but we fully expect ‘in person’ meetings to resume during 2021.

Who remembers when we could do this?

Refreshing our Life Groups gives us all a moment to review where we’d like to be in the year ahead, and to either recommit where we are or else try a different group. Our current groups have been running longer than originally planned due to Coronavirus. They’ve done a great job keeping us connected as a church family and I want to express my personal thanks to all who’ve been leading during this time.

The Refresh Process

Our current Life Groups will continue to run up to Christmas. Over the Christmas period we’ll have a short break, and new groups will then start in the week commencing 11th January 2021.

To make sure you’re part of a group in 2021, even if you want to stay in your current group, please sign up online from now until the 14th December.

On our Welcome Church website there’s a list of all the groups available in 2021, with a description of the type of group it is, and a photo of the group leaders.  You can visit that here: allwelcome.uk/lifegroups.

To help us place everyone in a group that works for them, we ask people to choose three options from the list of groups. If you want to remain in a group you’re already in then, assuming it’s still running, that choice will be given priority for you.

During the week commencing 3rd January 2021 you should receive an invite to join your group for 2021.

If you have any difficulty please ask your current Life Group Leaders for help, or email us at care@allwelcome.uk and we will help you through the process.

New Choices For 2021

This year the refresh provides a new option in addition to the regular Life Groups. Three groups are designated specifically as Bible study groups. These groups will look at a different aspect of the Bible each term, to help you establish a routine of reading the Bible and to understand more of this wonderful, life-giving book. 

I also want to mention our Daytime Life Groups which are for anyone who prefers to meet in the daytime. Whilst historically these groups have often ended up serving an older age group, we’re keen to emphasise that they are available to all, regardless of age. If daytime suits you best, please pick these options.

Please do take the time to prayerfully consider this opportunity to connect and grow over the coming year. We want everyone who calls Welcome Church their church to know that they belong.

Welcome Church Summer Plans

Summer time is here and the schools break up this week. As Lockdown is easing and more freedoms have returned we’ve recognised a need to adapt our programme, so we’re making a couple of changes for the rest of July and August:

1. Encouragement videos

We’re stopping these for the summer (last one Tuesday 21st July) and will review again in September. That said, if there’s something important to communicate, we’ll probably put a video out.

2. Prayer Meetings

We will now hold two prayer meetings a week and they’ll be on Tuesday and Friday mornings, 8.15am – 9am, on the usual Zoom codes. This doesn’t stop you getting together with others to pray as often as you want to at other times (just be sure to follow government guidance on physical distancing and numbers if you’re meeting in person!)

Staying Connected

It’s good to get a break over the summer, but do stay connected to church; we need one another! Sunday meetings will continue each week at WelcomeChurch.online at 9am and 11am, with kids work at 10am.

Your Life Group meetings may meet less often, but do keep building friendships with people. Under current guidance we’re allowed to meet outdoors with up to six people from different households, and two households are allowed to mix indoors. Let’s take advantage of that to grow friendships and build one another up.

Our Staff Team

still-tired-of-shopping-1439972This has been a year like no other and our staff team (those not furloughed) have worked flat out since this crisis began. It’s not been easy as we’ve had to review and reinvent everything we do, and deliver many things in new ways. All our job roles have changed significantly as a result. I’m sure people right across our church who’ve worked from home have discovered the complexity and pressure it brings, especially with family around. (Of course many people have been going in to work and will also have been under new pressures.)

Someone asked me recently if I’d “taken up a new hobby” with my “extra time”. (Extra time! That’s hilarious!) I understand the question, but the reality is I’ve had less time available than ever before. Across the team many days off have been missed and several holidays have been postponed due to the demands and the Lockdown. This is not unique to us (or to a church context) and I know from talking to leaders across Commission that most staff teams are exhausted.

With this in mind I’ve strongly encouraged our team to make sure they have some time off over the summer.

I want the team, and their families, to come back refreshed and recharged for the autumn, especially as we don’t know what challenges we will all face. Physical, spiritual and emotional recovery are all vital in this time.

Let me strongly encourage you, if you possibly can, to also give yourself space and time to refresh and recharge over the summer season too. God rested on the seventh day. Jesus took time out to rest and to pray. We absolutely need to do the same thing.