“They’re recognizing that the relationships they thought were much deeper with people were actually not as deep as they expected,” Kinnaman of the Barna Group — NPR Interview.
The pandemic shutdown emptied church buildings and propelled ministers into Technology 101. I learned how to stream and develop new ways to connect beyond in-person. As a pastor is has been stressful. If you watched us online we learned to lay images and scripture onto our video feeds. Then, back in-person with masks, we discovered how to do it all live. Of course we also found ways to crash… once during communion the video stream, which the projectors show to our live audience, began to flash. As I rambled about breaking bread, the image was blinking so quickly I worried folks at home were going into seizures!
Our in-person services have been a third of the size they were before the pandemic. And it is hard to measure the online connection. Facebook and Youtube streaming numbers are glowing, with many new folks watching. But when you bore into details most don’t watch the whole service. And I suspect we are losing people. The quote from Kinnaman resonants: many of our relationships are not deep.
Which makes me wonder, what will Chandler be when we find a new normal?
As a pastor the Barna Group study is scary. 1 in 5 churches will close in the next 18 months! But in many ways it is not surprising. Churches have been closing for decades. The pandemic accelerated the decline. Thankfully Chandler is not on the verge of shuttering (thank you for continuing to tithe!). But I know our church will be different.
If you listen to the whole NPR program, they interview a pastor from Oklahoma. His little church’s gifts struggle to pay operating costs, but a new food program is raising funds. The program feeds mainly white men… food from a black church in an area of Tulsa burned by the race riots – that is the action of God! With a new normal they are finding a way to thrive in the pandemic.
We too have started feeding the community. Each week I am amazed by your generosity. Filling our food donation bin, sending in funds to help. It is evidence that to BE Chandler is to Care!
But this is not the only way we will change. I invite you to start praying for vision. I hope from within our church will rise ideas. Not dreams of the way things were, but God’s desires.
So I look forward to our future together. Growing deeper so the life of Jesus becomes Chandler’s normal.