Game changers for a post-pandemic world

03.12.21 | New Faith Expressions, Congregational Development

    As the world begins to enter what many are calling a post-pandemic season, congregations must begin to “relaunch their churches.”

    That’s according to church growth expert and coach, Kay Kotan. However, she was quick to explain that this does not mean restarting things the way they were more than a year ago.

     “This is a chance for us to show up in new ways,” she said.

     The author of the new book, “Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World,” Kotan recently spoke at a webinar sponsored by and Market Square Books. The Rev. Rodney Smothers, director of Leadership Development for the Baltimore-Washington Conference, wrote the book’s forward.

     National experts indicate that perhaps only 60 to 70 percent of people will return to in-person church when sanctuaries begin to re-open for worship.

     “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity,” said Kotan, quoting Albert Einstein. “We’re seeing the light at the end of tunnel.”

     The question, Kotan said, is “What sets us up for how we need to show up differently as the church in the post-pandemic world?” One of the most compelling changes churches will have to make is to become explorers, people working within a movement, and creating new ways of worship and ministry, rather than settlers, relying on tradition, said Kotan.

     Did we see the pandemic as an interruption, or merely a pause in the way things have always been done, or as a disruption, providing opportunities to start everything new, she asked. 

     Kotan offered eight “game-changer” traits that churches need to possess to be vital and grow.

    1. Be flexible – Churches must not just stream their worship when they return to their building, but they need to also offer rich online worship that engages people who don’t want to go into the sanctuary. Kotan also advised starting ministry programs with a blank calendar. “Normal no longer exists,” she said. “We need to do a few things, do them really well, and do them in relationship.”
    2. Possess new ways of being in relationship – Churches must be program-driven and centered around the needs of the community, reaching well beyond Sunday morning activities.
    3. Be visionary – Deeply explore God’s preferred vision for the congregation, focusing not on “butts in the pews and bucks in the plate,” but on reaching people who do not yet have a relationship with Christ.
    4. Have an intentional spiritual development process – Disciples make disciples. Have a clearly defined method of helping people nurture the kind of spiritual depths that leads to transformation.
    5. Be committed – Align all the church’s resource to mission, Kotan said. Don’t play it safe. Be a part of the heartbeat of your community.
    6. Innovate – Invest in research and development, leverage assets, create ways to move beyond the offering plate for income, and think about new models of leadership that include the laity and bi-vocational pastors.
    7. Be resilient – Wobble, but don’t fall down.
    8. Have courage – Use this opportunity for the chance to have difficult conversations among church leaders. Have the courage of church planters. Be willing to be pioneers and explorers, rather than settlers; and be vulnerable enough to explore your passion for others to know Christ.

    “Church is a movement,” Kotan said. “We have to think beyond worship being the central thing we do. We have to be accessible to what’s happening out there 24/7 – virtually and in-person. … Press further down on the pedal. This is the time.”