These last two years have been often odd and sometimes painful ones for church leaders. In fact, they’ve been the strangest years of my 40+ years of ministry. Nevertheless, I’m excited about some things I’m seeing in churches these days. Here are some of those things:
- Glimmers of hope in returning numbers. Few of us think we’ll return to pre-COVID numbers anytime soon, but we’re at least seeing some people return. Each person brings a little hope to church leaders.
- A “weeding out” of church attenders that’s probably been needed for some time. It’s good for us to have a better sense of attenders who have “fringe” commitments to the church—and COVID has helped us figure that out. Now, our task is to determine how we reach them again.
- Renewed interest in reaching the community. Some of that renewal has happened simply because lowered attendance numbers have forced churches to think about outreach again, but it’s nonetheless a good trend. Turning outward, even if only slightly, is a start.
- Stronger recognition of the value of the church worshiping together. I admit this “trend” may be a brief change in the North American church because of COVID—and it may not last—but I still sense a greater appreciation for gathering together. Maybe we will also better understand why this gift is so precious to persecuted believers around the world.
- A greater willingness to look for the hand of God in circumstances. Amid all the craziness and chaos, I’ve heard more stories than usual about seeing God work in even the simplest situations. My hunch is that we have simply been more desperate for glimpses of His work, and our hearts are more tuned to seeing them.
- More willingness to use the Internet as a tool of ministry. Again, here’s what I’m not arguing: that online church should be the norm. The family of God ought to share life together, and that’s tough to do via screens alone. Nevertheless, we can with wisdom use the Internet to do things like supplement training, introduce Christian resources, etc. That’s not all bad.
- Ongoing stories about the transforming power of the gospel. This is not new, of course. It’s just a reminder that God is still at work changing lives, no matter how chaotic the world around us becomes. He’s still in control.
What excites you about church these days?