As badly as I would like a return to our previous “normal,” I’m beginning to think a “new normal” is inevitable. Will crowded venues and salad bars become a thing of the past? Will hesitant hugs and awkward handshakes persist? More importantly, will Sunday mornings ever be the same?
The Barna Group recently reported that over the past four weeks:
• One-third of practicing Christians have streamed a different church service online other than their own (i.e., digital “church hopping”);
• One-third of practicing Christians stopped attending church altogether (in person or online); and
• Half of practicing Christian Millennials have not attended any type of church service.
These trends certainly present challenges for churches used to a pre-COVID-19 world. However, lamenting over how things used to be—or complaining about how they are now—is wasted energy because it won’t change anything. The greater reality is that God is still on the throne and nothing happens but what He allows. Therefore, we should face these challenges and make adjustments with a positive attitude, holding “unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
In this regard, Faith Family Church is in the process of making several adjustments to deal with “The New Sunday Morning.”
1. Providing a top-notch digital experience.
Under the current circumstances, the primary identity of a church is digital and the physical location secondary. It’s critical to provide a high-quality experience for people and families worshiping at home and to encourage our members to invite others to join us online.
To this end, FFC recently made a considerable investment to upgrade our livestream production capabilities for those watching services from home. This includes:
• Three new HD cameras for multiple viewing angles,
• A dedicated audio mixer to improve the livestream’s sound quality,
• A new, more powerful computer to increase the livestream’s video quality, and
• Better integration of content shown on the sanctuary’s screen with the livestream.
You may have noticed some of these upgrades already, but much more work remains to be done, as we are waiting for the new HD cameras and computer equipment to arrive and be installed.
We also revamped the FFC website in April to make it easy to watch our livestream service, access the sermon notes, submit an online prayer request, and subscribe to a church-wide weekly email. More recently, we’ve rolled out a new church Events page, and we will continue to add features and capabilities to the web site in the coming months and year.
I thank the Lord for the team of dedicated members who have made it possible to livestream our services and keep our members connected online. I’m aware of other churches who do not have that ability and have suffered greatly as a result.
2. Doing fewer things better.
For me, one of the hardest changes forced by COVID-19 has been the lack of children’s ministry. We’ve also had to cancel one of our support groups, and we no longer have the full choir. Overall, churches are being forced to consolidate ministry, which means doing fewer activities and having less opportunity to connect with other members. This requires prioritizing what we can do and finding creative ways to do it better.
For example, our teens just completed a great week of service together that involved picking vegetables for the poor at First Fruits Farm, doing grounds work at an elementary school, and serving at the Westminster Rescue Mission—all the while observing the prevailing health guidelines. Our Women’s Ministry is having an outdoor fellowship this week, and our Men’s Ministry continues to meet monthly for breakfast, fellowship and prayer outdoors (and on other weeks as the “Running Club”). We may not be able to do everything we used to do, but our goal now is to do what we can, as well as we can.
3. Remaining gospel centered.
Despite the massive cultural shifts taking place, it is my conviction that the church must remain gospel centered. That means we continue to minister to others in need, support global evangelism, and preach and teach the Word of God. Methods may change to accommodate mission, but our functional purpose does not. At first, we adjusted ministry because of crisis. We must now focus on innovative ways to do ministry and mission because the church of tomorrow is here.