Posted In Technology | Posted On 2 November 2018 | Posted By Admin
The CoVID-19 Pandemic has thrown much of our lives into disarray. We as a society have had to completely rethink the way that we do everyday life. For the past year, gone have been the days of randomly showing up to events, running errands without masks, and even hugging our distant loved ones. Sadly, for as much as the Black Church touts an “in the world, but not of the world” ethic, we have not been exempted from the necessity of rethinking church life, rethinking ministry. Doing so has been crucial to the continuation of the Church militant writ large and individually. Many of the places where the Black Church has fallen behind have been amplified and exacerbated amid this global pandemic. Many questions have been and continue to be raised related to doing and being the Church in an increasingly virtual context. And while we would like to think that someday soon, we will be able to return to “normal,” the reality is that we would be mistaken to believe that we can return to the way we used to do Church while also seeing life-changing results. However, all is not lost, for there are 4 primary areas that can help ensure that the Church can harness the God-given ability to change the lives of their communities when given the proper attention. These 4 areas are Millennials and Gen Z, New Generation Trends, Learning to Pivot in pandemic times, and New Ways of Hybrid Ministry. Attention to these four points is absolutely crucial in today’s ministry context.
For at least a decade, the Church has not adequately given attention to the generations that will one day comprise the majority of its membership: Millennials and Gen Z. We have not sufficiently addressed the needs of these leaders and emerging generations. They have questions about God and the role of the Church based upon an increasingly technological and globalizing world, and they have become dissatisfied with some of the answers they have been given or outright ignoring their needs. However, suppose the Church is to maintain its place as a leader in this world. In that case, it must not only be in conversation with these generations, but it must also act upon what these generations are yearning to see in their faith communities. It is not true that millennials and Gen Zers are losing their faith. They are just tired of being ignored. It is time that the Church listens and listens closely. For as much as the Church can teach these generations, the Church can also learn from them. They want to know that their faith communities are not just concerned about an other-worldly heaven in the by and by. Still, they want to know that their Church’s primary concern is the same one we find in the Lord’s prayer: bringing God’s heavenly will to the Earthly realm. This means that they want to know that their Church sees the plight of the most marginalized amongst us and is acting on their faith. After all, the Church is the one that told them “faith without works is dead.” Thus, the Church must commit to having a living faith, one that listens and responds to the needs of Millennials and Gen Z.
The past year has made it abundantly clear that the Church must learn how to pivot in pandemic times. Pandemics rarely give ample warning to the communities that they affect; often, they happen swiftly. Thus, it is imperative that we, too, learn how to keep our “heads on a swivel” ready to react to whatever comes our way. Part of this means embracing our Holy Imagination and being willing to do things differently than we have ever done them before. Embracing holy imagination means leaning on the members of our congregations to think creatively about how to deliver effective and impactful resources to our specific ministry contexts. This also means having a strategically crafted ministry plan that includes the last point that every Church needs in today’s ministry context: new hybrid engagement methods. Hybrid engagement means that there are offerings for those that attend Church every Sunday and those that either cannot or choose not to enter the physical sanctuary week after week. In doing so, our churches become better prepared to continue delivering impactful ministry even if there are disruptions to the normative way of doing things. Hybrid ministry is also an effective way to increase the reach of our churches beyond even our immediate communities. Cleverly articulated hybrid gives us the ability to expand this reach without weakening the strengths of our ministries and making us more accessible to all that may want to partake.
Today’s ministry context is different from any that we have seen before. We are more highly connected than previous generations. We are experiencing a global pandemic of epic proportions; technology has all too quickly replaced personal interactions. Yet, we are not the first generation of church-goers to experience a wholly changed context from the ones before. However, the fact that we are here is a testament to their ability to adapt. This should give us the strength to adjust to our ministry context to ensure the continuation of an institution that has served as the pillar of our community for centuries. And suppose we are willing to listen to millennials and Gen Z, attune to new generation trends, learn to pivot in pandemic times and embrace new hybrid ministries. In that case, we will do just that. We will leave a solid and intact legacy for the next generations and position them to best adapt to their new ministry contexts.