In my local church ministry, I’ve begun thinking about what comes next in our shared church life as version 3.0. The first version was already complicated enough. That’s what we were doing pre-March 2020. We were navigating an evolving church world but holding on to plenty of old traditions. We were grounded in the physical presence of our building and property. Version 2.0 was the shock of what came when left our building for worship at home, an excess of Zoom meetings, and a much more robust online presence. Our community adapted and grew in this time, as we were no longer limited by those who drove to a specific location for an hour or two each week. Instead, we were connecting throughout the week and from many places. This second version took creativity and also required an extraordinary amount of energy.
But now like many of your settings, my congregation is looking toward version 3.0. We’re not returning to life as it was. We are finding it difficult to walk away from our expanded sense of community and presence. And yet we are already struggling with the impulse to have it all. We can just put together what we were doing before and what we were doing now, right? Although a pleasant idea in theory, churches have never thrived when trying to do it all.
Instead, we are now finding our third way. I am reminded of the Center’s resource, Getting Ready for Renewal. In that resource and process, church’s are challenged to articulate exactly why they are entering a time of renewal. Nothing is assumed. Instead, the congregation and leadership are encouraged to describe the “why” behind the desire to change.
Using that philosophy, this version 3.0 is a chance to remind one another why we do what we do. We are not changing without guidance or purpose. God continues to guide us in this time. And we do not need to reach back to grasp at what had once worked before. We can instead be attentive to what the Spirit is doing right now.
By Rachel McDonald