Texting with a pastor today about these uncertain times it was obvious he was truly concerned about his congregants and the future of the church. I shared with him just a snippet of what I plan to share in this post. I believe it was 2008 when I first shared this as I addressed a group of pastors and church leaders. A question was posed about the future of the church, the church in general.
My response was something like this: “I’m not certain what the church will look like in twenty to thirty years (2030-2040). But I will tell you this, in my opinion, it will be different than we have known church for the past sixty to seventy years. I believe we will see a lot of empty church buildings dot the landscape all across our nation…We could see a rise in smaller, home churches, which has a biblical base as we read in Acts. Technology will certainly play a part. Whatever it looks like, it will be different from what you and I have known as ‘church’ in our lifetime…”
In my texting today I admitted that this COVID-19 is perhaps speeding up those dates by a full ten years, and that may not necessarily be all bad. Churches today are being forced in some sense to adopt and adapt to today’s technology. We are having to reconsider and reconfigure almost everything we do as “the church,” and it may not be temporary adjustments.
I see this as possibly a blessing in disguise or at least a providential intervention to get the church’s attention for needed change. I realize the word change is a dirty six-letter word in the church, but change is essential for the continuing existence of God’s church. For two thousand years, the church has adapted, morphed, and changed to reach the culture of the day.
The church today has a golden opportunity to reach our communities, nation, and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The question is, will we, the church, allow God to use us to be His church, regardless of what it looks like. Regardless of our traditions or a completely new venue.
So, pastor, church leader, let me encourage you. While today’s church does not look like what it did just one month ago, this did not catch God off guard. He not only was aware of it before it happened, but He has also known since the foundation of the world.
Since it has not caught God off guard, He knows there is work to be done. It is not a new work, only new methods. We need a new mindset. For many in our world, a new mindset will require a transformation. I believe a transformation of the church is indeed in the making. And we are blessed and privileged as His servants to join Him in that remaking, transformation of Christ’s bride. “Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.