As a leader, you’ve never experienced a season like this one. Even before the pandemic, the pace of change in our culture has been ever-increasing for the past 10 to 15 years. The current generation of leaders are the only generation that has had to lead in a context where the pace of change is so rapid. Not only are you managing and leading through the tactical work, making plans and working in details, but there is also the emotional stress of change followed by change and then more change again.
As a design/build/furnish firm for churches, Aspen Group has been helping pastors and their ministry teams navigate the change that comes with church facility projects. Now, in this era of COVID-19, church leaders are experiencing unprecedented change. Every pastor and church leader will need support navigating the difficult leadership issues during this season, particularly as you think about reentering or reopening your building, and especially as you relaunch your church into a new future.
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When COVID-19 hit the U.S., church leaders faced the unexpected and overwhelming challenge of closing their doors. You may have had to quickly figure out how to stream services and move ministry activities online. Now, you’re likely grappling with the daunting details of how to reopen your facilities for in-person worship and other ministries. You and your church leadership team are wrestling myriad questions and concerns about how to relaunch church in COVID-safe ways. At the same time, as a leader, you need to lift your eyes, look out at the horizon, and ask, “What have we learned about our church in this crisis that can help us prepare for a new season of ministry?”
Are you feeling unsure about reopening your church’s doors in the midst of COVID-19? You’re not alone. According to findings from the third round of a COVID-19 study conducted by Exponential, 28% of pastors surveyed say they still are unsure when they will reopen their church building, and 67% are choosing not to meet in-person even if local guidelines and restrictions permit it.
This has been a difficult season for every business, organization, and church as we deal with the impacts of both the Coronavirus and the extenuating economic crisis left in its wake. No doubt your church is thinking about next steps and trying to wrestle through what comes next, including the process around reopening your church and how to deal with the financial implications that your church is facing. Getting your church fully online took a lot of work, but now there are 1,001 other decisions that you need to make.
In my role at Aspen, I am typically the first person to field calls and emails from churches that want to discuss a potential building project or facility need. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, my phone stopped ringing, and I received few emails from leaders asking to help solve their ministry space challenges. With churches forced to leave their buildings, everyone was reacting to the crisis and making fast pivots to swiftly adapt the way they were doing church.
In March 2020 when COVID-19 hit the U.S., church leaders faced the unexpected and overwhelming challenge of closing their doors. In a previous blog post, I touched on the three stages of crisis management that disaster response expert and founder of Forge Leadership Consultancy, Simon Barrington, noted:
Financial leaders in the church are individuals or families who have a high capacity for generosity. Brian Dodd, Director of New Ministry Partnerships for INJOY Stewardship Solutions and prolific blogger on Brian Dodd on Leadership, defines financial leaders as any family that tithes $10,000 or more annually to your church, or, for churches that don’t have givers at this level, it’s the top 10 percent of a church’s annual givers. In the guest post that follows, Dodd shares 10 reasons why pastors should be especially intentional in engaging their financial leaders during the COVID-19 crisis.
Church building projects can sometimes create a sustained season of stress for pastors and ministry leaders. Though there’s positive excitement as walls go up and spaces take shape, the change associated with building or renovating a church can leave senior leaders vulnerable to getting stuck and possibly leaving the church once the dust from the construction project has settled.
Sometimes, churches fall into a trap of thinking that building generosity for community impact simply means building something external like a community center or a coffee shop in order to inspire people to give more to the church. According to Julie Bullock, Senior Generosity Strategist at Generis, cultivating true generosity, actually has less to do with what people are giving to and more about what people are giving from.