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