Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
I am feeling a sense of gladness as 2020 comes to an end. What a year it has been! The cloud of COVID is passing over, and we can see hints of blue sky and sun rays again. We have learned lessons in COVID that will pay great dividends in the post COVID world.
When it comes to many operations at the presbytery office, we’d already begun practices that really paid off during this time of COVID. In a meeting with the presbytery staff and our new treasurer Kathy Sherrick, we talked about how we do almost all of our financial business online. This practice began when we left a 30,000 sq. ft. building on Tower Grove and moved into a 1400 sq. ft. office. We simply had no place to put all of the paper generated from our financial operation.
That’s when we purchased software with cloud storage. We then scanned all of our paper into the cloud with our copier, making it accessible and searchable. The next step was creating online billing and payment. This eliminated printing checks. All of this happened before COVID. When COVID hit, we found ourselves in a position to work from home and not have any financial glitches. Our accountants no longer have to come into the office. We have learned a new way to work and we will continue to work in this way even after COVID.
Parallel things are happening in the church. People are learning a new way to have worship experiences. Some (like myself) will be part of several worshiping communities over a single weekend. We are finding new ways to be nourished and strengthened.
After COVID, I am sure people will still desire to worship from home and in person. Church budgets will be affected. Sessions will have to think about the amount of resources now being spent on bricks and mortar, compared to the small amounts spent for technology. Because of COVID some people who were hidden and quiet have really come alive! Their knowledge of technology has made them more valuable. New roles have been created; new gifts discovered.
How does the church continue to move forward in this new way of being? The church should focus more on purpose and less on getting the most people in a building. Perhaps trying to meet again in person is a grasp for nostalgia—a longing to return to a way of being that will not fit in a post COVID world. I’m not sure exactly what the post COVID will look like, but I’m confident the answer is not found by looking backward.
In a recent podcast Gil Rendle said, “A thriving (church) is steady in purpose but flexible in strategy. When your environment changes, can you do what you do but in a different way for that environment?” The future church will be a thriving church because it has learned to use the tools and resources to live in a post COVID environment. It will learn to do the mission and ministry of Christ to a post COVID community. Pastors and leaders should use the tools they have learned and move forward in prayer, while thinking and planning for the post COVID environment.
Rev. Craig M. Howard