In the past two and a half years, most everyone’s world has been turned upside down to various degrees. What most seek is comfort, normalcy, and familiarity. Most often, those who are churched seek such refuge in their church, so to suggest that this is the best time to turn the church inside out sounds ludicrous. However, this is indeed the absolute best time to examine our churches from basement to steeple and literally turn our churches inside out.
First, let’s address why such action is needed and why now is the time. By and large churches have not kept up with culture and therefore find themselves becoming more and more irrelevant to mainstream society – and even more so as we emerge out of the pandemic. The gap has continued to widen with our churchy language versus secular language, the ministries offered versus the ministries the community would likely engage in, the age difference in most churched versus unchurched populations, approaches to preferences of gathering people, schedules, and much more including the rise in distrust of church leaders and perceived hypocrisy. As a result, the country is growing more and more unchurched according to a Gallup Poll citing only 47% of US adults belong to a church, synagogue or mosque – down 20 points since 2000. We must develop a sense of urgency to reach new people for Jesus Christ.
Second, let’s look at some initial first steps a church can take. Since we are already in a time of disruption and liminality, it is indeed the very best time to fight against going back to the way we’ve always done things in the life of the church (which likely wasn’t all that effective anyway) and instead use this as a time of deep evaluation and soul searching. Gather some of the church leaders and begin processing these questions: What’s working well in the life of the church in reaching new people? What is not? What do we need to stop so that those resources (time, energy, money, building usage, etc.) can be diverted into something that is more effective? Where are our personal preferences and internal relationships driving decisions rather than the mission of making disciples? Are we more of a museum for the saints and gold plagues or a hospital for the hurting in our community? What is the signature ministry of the church (what are we known for in the community)? If the church were too close tomorrow, would anyone notice? Is the church focusing first on reaching new people and second on taking care of those already gathered? How does the church deploy themselves into the community to serve and build new relationships with the unchurched regularly? How many disciple-making disciples are there in the church? How many are being developed each year?
Third, let’s look at some resources to assist churches. As your leaders begin to process the questions above, you may have already felt as though you’ve been twisted, pulled, tugged, challenged, and even turned inside out! This is indeed difficult, transformational work – yet holy, important work we are called to do. Here are some resources to help you in your journey:
Inside Out: Everting Ministry Models for the Postmodern Culture
Being the Church in the Post Pandemic World
IMPACT! Reclaiming the Call of Lay Ministry
If you are interested in an equipping webinar or needing congregational coaching, check out the resources at kaykotan.com or email email@example.com.