Dave Gibbons: The Shift Already Happened—Before COVID-19

Ready to get back to normal? Church on Sundays, small groups, well-oiled programs and a professional staff as the focus. We may now even have some hubris because we believe we have beefed up our online streaming and social platform muscle during this downturn and downtime.

But are you seeing that a seismic shift took place? The pandemic is just giving us clarity about what has been growing underground for some time. We have entered a season of renaissance for the church. And it’s only now becoming evident to many.

History may see this time as a change from building and planting churches as we have known it, to focusing more on building people where they are already divinely planted. This will not just be equipping people to start a prayer group or bring people to our box or our programs. Instead, people will be equipped to honestly and purely love those around them—and the vulnerable—loving them and walking with them and giving them the best resources to achieve God’s design for their lives.

Church planting will take on new significance when we see the “churches” are already there. It’s the people of God already planted in the marketplace who need to be equipped by us—not with a tired church planting model, but with an operating system and tool kit powered by the Holy Spirit to love people authentically and supernaturally. It’s a shift from the recent emphasis on the production of Sunday services to developing our people with more customized care, communication and investment of resources in them.

Instead of using this time of crisis to preserve and protect what we had going well, we should creatively use it to nurture the seeds that were planted years ago that are now growing through the fractured ground of our culture.

These seeds are a new generation that see race, the stewardship of the planet, Jesus, life, the death penalty, global collaboration, creativity, diversity, and politics differently. They are a new group of ethnic and cultural minorities who have become the majorities in our cities. Diverse leaders will emerge that will be younger and more in tune with what has been growing underground. What they find of great value may be more in tune with the Jesus we read about in the Scriptures than the current heroes of the church.

Once you move past the shock and stress of the changes you’re now seeing, you may get excited because God is doing an old new thing. This pandemic provides a longer look into our future. New heroes, new currencies, new emphases, new ways of communicating, new collaborations, new technologies.

No need to fear, because this is the moment of great opportunity to be a part of what God is creating for our children and our children’s children. It’s a time to honor the past but also to ask God for a new set of eyes to see new leaders and new frameworks, a new set of ears to hear new songs and new languages that he’s created.

It’s time to define the new reality—to realign our priorities and reallocate our resources. The door is now open. Do you see it?

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Dave Gibbons
Dave Gibbonshttp://www.newsong.net/

Dave Gibbons is the founding pastor of Newsong, a multisite, international church with campuses in inner city L.A., North Orange County, Irvine and Bangkok, among other places. He's also the CVO and founder of Xealots, a nonprofit that equips creatives, entrepreneurs, activists, artists and innovators to discover their destiny and live it out.