The global pandemic has disrupted the normal operations of churches. Without attendees coming into a sanctuary, already accustomed to a familiar format, many leaders bemoan the new circumstances and await a return to business as usual.
But what if this is an opportunity to rethink the church in ways that make her stronger if she changes to meet this “new normal”?
Consider how Paul adapted for the sake of the Gospel:
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV
Paul became a Jew, a slave, a weakling, and an outlaw to speak to those different people groups.
Shouldn’t leaders do the same, adapt to best win more to the Gospel, rather than holding onto their traditions?
Those traditions — a physically captive audience listening to a standard format — aren’t writ in stone as the only true way to share the Gospel.
Our call is not grounded in specific Form. It’s about Purpose and, in a way, Outcome:
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
”Form”-based mindset assumes the primary way is driving audiences into seats to listen to a sermon of specific structure, content, and length.
“Function” is seeking the best Form to “destroy arguments...against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
What would Paul do in these new times?
Perhaps he would call out a new “persona” to become in order to reach them: the Zoom fatigued, the digitally distracted, the culturally captivated.
By embracing the loss of our traditional and familiar Form, which has the risk of being a crutch, the church can emerge from this universal stressor with greater impact.
However, if she waits to return to the old ways when the dust settles, she will be the same, while those she seeks to reach and, more importantly, those who set up “arguments” against the Gospel, will have changed.
- Can the Gospel be made compelling enough to compete against other distractions in their home turf?
- If not, why not?
- What if you only have 10 minutes over video to proclaim the Gospel? What would you do differently?
- How can you be relevant without compromising the Truth, to convict instead of to entertain?