These are crazy days. A year ago if you would have said that we would be staring down Easter 2020 with our church doors closed, I would have called you crazy. Yet, here we are! The church has left the building and is still alive and active in the world.
I've noticed some real innovation taking place the last few weeks. People are pushing past discomfort and engaging technology and creativity in a way they haven't before. That reminds me of one of the ways we define when creativity happens. "Creativity happens when limited resources collide with a determination to continue."
When we have no limitations, we get lazy. We don't have to innovate and so we don't. But when we suddenly have limitations and the mission for which we have been created is too great to give up on, our brains push us into a new place in our thinking. What was assumed before (a building is required to be the church) is no longer true. Our mission is too important to let the enemy win! So we think differently and begin to innovate.
As you think about doing new things in new ways, consider three priorities for your online presence that will help you be the church in this ever-changing world:
Opportunity over Obstacles- Instead of saying things you can't do, talk about things you can do. When you see your situation as an opportunity to be leveraged instead of an obstacle to be overcome, it opens your mind to creative alternatives. With a negative mindset, you only see what you can't do and don't realize the new things you can do. For example, you can't do in person small groups, but you can pull your people together in a group chat, Facebook group, livestream, or Zoom meeting. You can't do children or youth ministry but you can send videos on instagram and snapchat, resources for parents to use at home with their kids, and play games with youth online. What new things can you do during this time?
Body over Building- The church is the body of Christ; not a building. The church is a group of people; not a place. If you agree, then let's start looking at other places to film our online gatherings. Instead of only filming in the "church building," let's be the church in the community! Take a video from your living room. Go on a walk and film the neighborhood. Head to a park, sit on a bench, and talk to your people. When this is all over, we want to still be the church in the community. We want to be people who take our faith with us wherever we go. Now is a great time to begin to cast vision for what that look like so it can infuse our culture and help us grow in the way we see ourselves as the body of Christ
People over Production- Most of us are never going to compete with the production and pizzaz of the big megachurches. They have simply been at this so much longer than we have. So why try? Why make production your goal? If people want first class production, they will watch one of the big-name churches. The people who are watching your services are watching because they are your people - they want connection, not production. So stop making production your ultimate goal and start finding ways to connect with your people. Begin to help them connect with each other. Use platforms like Zoom to get people together in the same "room." Promote video clips of multiple people sharing a particular thought or testimony. Utilize tools like Facebook Live to connect while watching your worship service online. Put the emphasis on People over Production.
You have been the church in a building, now go be the church without a building! May God help us all think innovatively, lead creatively, and love deeply.