Your Church Is Now a Blank Slate

By Thom S. Rainer

You will never get to return to your church.

Let me be clearer. When you return to gather for worship and fellowship and study, it will not be the same church before the coronavirus pandemic.

The world will never be the same. And neither will your church.

Many, if not most, of our churches are struggling and hurting. Some will not make it. The situation is bleak for many congregations.

But this period is also a time of opportunity. It is a time to rethink your church. It’s a time to shed “the way we’ve always done it” mindset and move into a new and exciting future.

For certain, we don’t change our views on the Word of God, the exclusivity of salvation through Christ, or any of the essential doctrines of the faith. But these days are a great time to rethink how you “do church.” Here are ten points to consider:

  1. What lessons can you learn from the digital world that you can apply anew on the other side of the pandemic? How can you do church differently digitally?
  2. How can you re-discover your community? How can you learn fresh their needs? How can you reach them with the gospel? We have a tool called Know Your Community. It’s a great place to start.
  3. What should your stewardship look like beyond the pandemic? Should you make some radical changes in how your church funds are used?
  4. Will COVID-19 cause you to rethink how you use your facilities? Can they be used for a greater gospel purpose?
  5. Those who create dissension in your church kill its spirit. Will you be willing to deal with them forthrightly in the future?
  6. How will your church connect and relate to other churches? Are new models on the horizon? Should you be a part of a new model?
  7. Is the Sunday-morning-only experience for most churchgoers about to die? How should you respond?
  8. What changes would you make if you tossed out the old church calendar and started from a blank slate?
  9. Read the book of Acts. Read the letters to the early churches. What changes does your church need to make to become a New Testament church?
  10. What does church staffing look like with a blank slate? Is it time to shift models?

These are but ten of many starting points for you to consider.

Yes, the pandemic is bad news. But the opportunity to etch a future on a blank slate is good news. From this calamity many stronger, more gospel-focused churches will arise.

There is no reason your church shouldn’t be one of them.

Posted on March 30, 2020

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • It’s interesting (pointing at myself as well) that making little jokes about TV preachers might have come to an abrupt end. Just sayin’…

  • cotton mathis says on

    To the Southern Baptists:

    Any thoughts on what this will do to Associational and State leadership?

    There have been questions in the past of the value of the association and even the state leadership where millions of dollars are poured in, and for what? Are Southern Baptists holding on to a dead tradition in keeping these offices? Will churches now be able to “afford” to give money to the associations and states, given the fact that financially almost all churches are going to be hit, some very hard?

    For at least three decades, the smaller churches have been reasonably sufficient and have not needed much of what the association, or even the state leaders, have to offer.

    What affect will this have on mission giving? Will churches sacrifice their local mission opportunities for the North American and International missions?

    You can’t “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” If the local church goes, so do the “golden eggs” that have been handed to associations and state leaders.

  • Very timely article Thom. I was in bed last night and thinking about some of the third world countries that do not allow churches and people to gather together for worship and services. We in the United States have taken going to church for granted. May we all take this time to appreciate the faithfulness of going to church and not stay home just because “we don’t feel good” or “company came over” or whatever feeble excuse people give. This is a time to take note to renew our faith in Jesus Christ and the importance of attending church. Remember you never really appreciate something until it’s taken away from you. WE are the church. Stay strong and worship and pray at home until we can meet again. And when that time comes when we can meet together again, do it with a renewed, fresh anointing and fervor that we never had before. At the present time I am compelling a list for my first message when church starts up again. “The things I have learned during this crises.” May we all take the time to re-evaluate.

  • Da vid G T ro ublef ield, PhD, DMin says on

    …And (in response to “irrelevance” mentioned above), somewhere along the way, almost all of us began believing that everything answers to Science—but Science itself answers to Mathematics (not vice versa). The probability that Science holds the keys to a fulfilling life: much-much-much lower than “scientists” would have the rest of us believe (if they worked as actuaries, stock brokers, insurance underwriters, etc., “scientists” never-ever would stake their futures or that of their families on the popular claims that they do now).

  • D avid G Tr oublef ield, PhD, DMin says on

    By definition, change is “a self-sustaining new condition.” Many references to “change” actually describe only a trend, fad, or synonymous term for short-lived differences observed. Much is required to kill an organization called “local church”—or even to change one, as we all can attest (10+ years required for a formerly-evangelistic congregation finally to die after organizational dysfunction sets in?). New opportunities are being discovered presently, and new things are being learned (e.g., technologies), but “the church changed”?—That remains to be seen. Churches need change, for the sake of their communities, but might not experience it even in days as challenging as these.

    (Management x Leadership x Administration) > Resistance = Change

  • Thomas Bounds says on

    Come hell or high water I’m going to make this experience challenge my dying church to confront reality and step out of the 70’s. The day after will never again resemble the day before. Not if I can help it. Onward and outward.

  • I live in Virginia, and our governor has just put us on lockdown until June 10. Needless to say, that frustrated the daylights out of me. I received this blog from the SBC’s “Facts and Trends” site this morning, and it gave me some much-needed encouragement. Take advantage of the down time, friends, and plot your strategy for a big comeback when it’s over.

  • Are you planning any teachings/webinars to talk us through your questions – suggest how we LOOK/PREPARE TO LOOK – after we come through this?

  • Bobby Gilbert says on

    The stones finally got locked out of the building. why do you want to go back in the building?

    If you do not own it, do you want to keep paying for it?

    The fishingmen can finally go fishing.

  • Religion is an irrelevance and no more than a placebo for the weak. What we realise is science and research is important to fight pandemics and no sky fairy fetish will do a damn thing.

    What we are seeing is some churches flouting the rules and endangering lives during the Covid pandemic

    • Spread your hatred on some other site, huh?

    • Mike Fogerson says on

      Dee, thanks for your concise and profound insight into this troubling time. You must be a wonderful person with a beautiful singing voice. I’m keeping you and your precious life partner in “my thoughts” (read prayers).

  • Dr. Wayne Greene says on

    Bless you, Sir:
    I love reading your words of encouragement. Thank you so much!
    As we go through this, we are using technology to still proclaim God’s message. Thank God for those means.
    However, I am looking forward to our Relaunch Sunday (the first Sunday we are
    able to gather). Although we have a wonderful responsibility to keep our Church
    excited about Who’s we are now, our planning for our next gathering has already brought about excitement. It will be a great day of celebration. To God be the glory!

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