The New Face of the Church
It's been a real challenge dealing with not being able to have in person fellowship with other believers for so long. The hardest part is no one knows how much longer this is going to last. The reason we have no idea how far this is going to drag on is because the situation is unique to every locality. There's no single national, state or even regional solution for how the church can get back to the way it was. Also, the size of the church is a major factor. Obviously, a congregation of 10,000 is going to be closed or severely limited much longer than a congregation under 50. There are many other factors as well, but hopefully you get the point that the good 'ol days of church are behind us at least for the moment. Clearly we have a serious need to adapt to our situation. Now that we've had a couple of months to process things and the worst of the pandemic seems to be calming down a bit, I'd like to share my thoughts on the different ways the church as a whole is adapting to this new way of doing things. There are some really neat and creative ways people are already doing church, some not so great in my opinion, and there are other ways I haven't seen in action but would be thrilled to see people doing. I believe we can move beyond survival mode and figure out how to minister to the world as it is right now.
You see, churches are notorious for forming a committee to change a light bulb, thus drawing a 5min task into months. However, suddenly they're faced with not being able to do what they've always done, and there's zero time to consider real solutions. Also, churches are even more notorious for resisting change, yet suddenly faced with everything they've ever known about church comes to a screeching halt. Usually a congregation can stomach up to one noticeable change per year, but instead they're forced to accept a hundred drastic changes with zero time to process.
Many churches are taking to livestreaming their services or even doing video-conference calls so everyone can interact. A lot of them were already doing it, so they're just stepping it up. Most weren't and have had to struggle with technology they haven't had a chance to adapt to yet. I believe the churches that are continuing to livestream are doing so with hopes of being able to begin meeting in person soon enough, but I don't believe it's the best way moving forward. It's like a plywood board over a giant pothole, it can get one or two cars over safely, but not necessarily a third.
I believe we as the church can do a whole lot better than this.
Another solution that has come out of the sudden change in church services is the "drive-up" approach. This is a pretty neat idea if it can be pulled off. The preacher stands on a platform or even the roof and preaches the sermon while the members stay in their cars in the parking lot. It's safe, it's in person and doesn't require much more than a microphone and platform. Some churches are able to do a radio tune in, which is pretty neat. Honestly, a preacher with a good set of lungs won't even need any of that. Obviously, there are challenges with this as well. Everyone has to stay in their cars the entire time, so there's still not the same kind of fellowship we're used to. In some states, they're required to park every other space, which might not allow everyone to join. (That's clearly nonsense to expect that since there's no requirement like that for grocery stores.) Heck, some states that shall remain unnamed (*cough New York *cough) didn't even allow this to take place during the worst of the pandemic, so yet another challenge and adding to the point that each situation is unique.