The pastor who asked the question demonstrated both maturity and wisdom. He asked our community of church leaders at Church Answers what they wished they had done differently during the pandemic.
His question was not one of remorse. Instead, he wanted to learn some lessons for the future. I watched the community of church leaders respond to him. They loved his approach; they made great contributions to the conversation.
Here are five of the most frequent responses. What are things you wish your church had done differently during the pandemic?
1. More evangelism. Here is a great direct quote from one of our members at Church Answers: “We treated it more as a time simply to endure so we could return to the status quo. And while few things did change following COVID, most of those changes ended up being pretty superficial. We had an opportunity to completely examine how we reach our community, but none of that actually changed. I truly regret not pushing harder for us to follow through.”
2. More one-on-one contact. Some of the church leaders look back and realize they could have done a better job staying in touch with the members. They were so accustomed to seeing them on a regular basis in person that some of them did not move proactively to contact them during the quarantine.
3. Less panic about finances. For the most part, these church leaders feel like they overreacted, some to the point of panic, to the possibility of declining income. The common refrain was, “God provided.”
4. Better care of staff and key leaders. Only time will tell the toll the pandemic has been on all of us. A pastor I coached shared, “I was dealing with multiple issues I’d never had to deal with before. I dealt with criticisms I didn’t know existed. I’ve been exhausted and, at times, depressed. As a consequence, I didn’t check on my leaders enough. I wish I had been more attentive to them.”
5. Greater knowledge of the community. Some of the church leaders shared with us that the quarantine would have been a great opportunity to get to know their community and neighborhood better. They saw other church leaders doing a good job taking prayer requests from the community on social media during the pandemic. They wish they had done likewise. They’ve also heard from other churches recently about their use of the time to study the demographics and psychographics of the community. As the church regathered, they were better prepared to reach and minister to the community where God has placed them.
At the risk of redundancy, let me repeat that the attitudes of the leaders from whom we heard were not ones of wallowing in self-pity. Sure, they wish they had done some things differently. But, even more, they see the opportunity to turn their regrets into gospel-centered ministry.
It is for this reason and others I believe the best days are ahead for many of our churches.
Originally published at Church Answers.
Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Rainer has written over 30 books, including three that reached number one bestseller: I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, and Simple Church. His new book, The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation, is available now.