Jim's Journal December 2020
Well....it is going to be WONDERFUL to say “good-bye” to 2020! We will never forget you, as much as we would LOVE to! I am thankful for how SO MANY have made necessary innovations to reach and connect people like we have not in many years. So, as I reflect, there are some lessons that I take from this season and I thought they would be appropriate as we close this year...celebrating JESUS and seeking a Jesus FIRST life.
One benefit we’ve learned from COVID-19 is that “church” isn’t what happens when we gather, it’s what happens every day as we are SENT OUT (SCATTER) on mission in our everyday lives. We are the CHURCH, and the people of God must learn to carry out the life of Jesus for the sake of the world around us. COVID-19 made gathering difficult/impossible, and suddenly we became free to imagine what we could do IF a Sunday Service wasn’t the FOCUS of who we are!
Another benefit we are learning is that the point of being a pastor isn’t to just teach/preach great messages, but to offer healing to a broken world and equip the saints for the works of ministry. Many pastors felt useless and frustrated during the lock-down because they only know how to teach/preach, because that was the focus of the modern era. What happens to good teachers/preachers when the FOCUS moves to healing the sick and equipping others to be the pastors of their homes and neighborhoods.
My friend Leonard Sweet provides a great image when he describes, “Once upon a time, pastors had studies. They would hunker down in their rooms surrounded by books to craft wonderful message. In the modern era, pastors have office’s because we became “pseudo-CEO’s” that manage staffs and big budgets. After COVID-19, pastors are moving into studios. Not just “creative studios” to produce our messaging in video (on our back porch, from our living rooms, dining rooms...) and podcast formats, but studios in the vein of the old
masters who had apprentice painters around them learning the craft and becoming better artists than their masters. THAT is the FUTURE CHURCH Pastors studio. So, who are you equipping and training for impact in YOUR JERUSALEM?
Programs have traditionally been our answer to any problem. We made programs for everything and everyone. COVID-19 shut down most programming and they were replaced by the dinner table. More of us have begun to re-gather in homes before re-gathering in church buildings. FUTURE CHURCH will need to become experts at the lost art of HOSPITALITY. We have to RE-LEARN person to person care, and one on one or two/three discipleship. FUTURE CHURCH must grow smaller if we are going to have long-term impact in our communities.
Perhaps the “biggest benefit” from COVID-19 is that it HAS FORCED US TO INNOVATE. FUTURE CHURCHES that will have a long-term FUTURE IMPACT will have a definitive ONLINE presence and imprint for BOTH WORSHIP and ENGAGING PEOPLE in ongoing discipleship. FUTURE CHURCH will move forward from “faking disciples” to “MAKING DISCIPLES.” It has taken a pandemic to force us to PIVOT from gathering in our Holy Huddles to creating YouTube channels that offer content 24/7 whenever people may interact with it. Due to this innovation many churches that have embraced the technology are reaching people that have NEVER been reached before. NOW, how will we steward these “new attenders?”
I look forward to what God will do in guiding us to becoming FUTURE CHURCHES who take the never changing message of Jesus to a world that is lost and hurting and making disciples who make disciples who will impact our Jerusalem and the world!
It is a great privilege to serve with you! Merry Christmas to you all!
Jim Woolums, Lead Follower