The Church Needs a Revival of Reconnection
Every article I have read about church involvement since the beginning of Covid, goes something like this, “Our attendance has dropped somewhere between 30-70%. We are not sure where those people went.”
Depending on the size of your congregation you may have seen less of a decline than others, but I have yet to talk to an existing church prior to the pandemic that hasn’t seen some sort of decline in their attendance, giving, volunteer base or staff. Some churches have had to make drastic decisions like laying off half their staff, moving out of their building, cutting ministries, cutting services and so forth and so on.
During this pandemic people have been dislodged from their normal lives and have had to find a new way forward in this new season. The mental health crisis is at an all-time high and the rate of suicide, homicide and substance abuse is through the roof. We are living in a new normal and very little of it seems positive. The grind that it takes to succeed emotionally and relationally in this season is overwhelming for the average person and especially for those who lead and seek to help others.
This season has dislodged people from their regular lives and routines. It has disillusioned them with what they have experienced and lost in these past two years. It has created discouragement in people because of the uncertainties and the unknowns. The isolation has fostered an environment for past sins and addictions to rear their ugly heads again.
These factors have produced many barriers for reconnection. Some people have simply given up. Some are still spinning out of control hoping to reconnect. Some don’t know how. Some are waiting for someone to point them in a new direction. Church leadership has never been needed more in people’s lives than now. It is important that we strike a compassionate approach that helps people reconnect to God, to church and to each other.
But how do we do this? In a season where churches and church leadership have had to make cuts to their budgets, staff, ministries, services and so forth, how do we move forward and help people experience a revival of reconnection?
We must let go of the past. We must honestly assess the church we lead and make the necessary corrections and cuts. The church I pastor in Colorado Springs, Vanguard Church, needed adjustments as well. We assessed the church and decided we needed to discontinue one of our locations and we needed to stop doing Saturday night service so that we could regroup and pray through starting something new to help people reconnect.
We spent about six months discussing this as a church leadership. We didn’t need the number of services we were hosting. We didn’t need the number of locations we were supporting. But what did we need? Our small group ministry was decimated by COVID. It limited or ended most of our small groups. Our children’s and student ministries were decimated by the displacement and the new burdens put on young families by this new season. Our volunteer base and small group leadership pool along with new members and our normal connection process were impaired as well. Anything that had a personal touch required was greatly harmed by the “six-foot social distance rule.”
So, we prayed, talked, dreamed and decided it was time to go back to a midweek connection and prayer service where we could be far more intentional about connecting at a one-on-one relational level for all ages. In this service we do have worship and teaching, but it is the minority of the time, our primary focus is breaking out into small groups for all ages and allowing key leaders in our church both staff and volunteers to sit around tables and give anyone in our church the chance to be known again in a way that brings glory to Jesus and good to them.
We are just a few weeks into this revival of reconnection in our church, but we are already seeing huge dividends relationally. We don’t know how long we will have this midweek connection service. We are committed to doing it for at least a year, but have no problem with continuing it beyond this year. Our goal and purpose is to help people get reconnected so they can overcome their displacement, disillusionment, discouragement and defeat. People need to know they can live again. We have spent two years trying to avoid dying, but the by-product of that is we have quit living.
We must start living again. We must start reconnecting again. We must choose to do something new in our churches even if it is not new to church it is new to our people. People need something new to connect to in your church. They need to be invited to something that doesn’t remind them of this past season of their lives. This new whatever that you start in your church will be the catalyst to jump-start them into the new season of their lives. This little bit of momentum will dislodge them from their present paralysis, it will give them direction out of their disillusionment, it will give them just enough hope to be encouraged in their discouragement, and it will give them opportunity to be human again and learn that the defeat of sin is universal, but we can through the blood of Christ and the testimony of our fellow saints walk in victory, again.
As you assess this season of your church and church life, it is time to choose a new beginning. New beginnings require the loss of the old season, and they bring change that will awaken the senses again to the vision and calling that God has on your church and your life.
A revival of reconnection in your church begins with starting something new.
May the Lord show you what that is in the days ahead.