Church Now Conversations
with Ed Stetzer

Conversation Notes
June 11, 2020

  1.  We have had many crises this year, beginning with a political crisis, a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and then a racial injustice crisis.  
  2. Leadership during these times is tumultuous.
  3. Ed spoke about the 4 phases of the crisis:  pause & pivot, prepare & plan, engage & execute, recover & reemerge.  (see Powerpoint [Leadership in Times of Crisis] at  Many have been asking how to help churches reemerge.  
  4. How do we not return to normal, but how do we create a new normal?  
  5. People are pushing leadership to re-open.  Differing views of if this virus is really serious.  Some places that have reopened are putting the brakes on, as cases have increased significantly.  This could be a roller coaster over the next few months.
  6. Typical reality for churches is that their budgets are 15-20% down.  Optimism remains high.  Ed thinks churches are unrealistically optimistic though and need to make some difficult decisions.  It might be good for your church to ask how to lead through a financial reset of where we are and how we will function.
  7. Churches have had to learn things that are different from how they’ve been doing things.
  8. Right now, we have a need for leadership in ways that might be unfamiliar to us.  
  9. Churches need to ask how they are leading well during this time.
  10. Think in terms of a gradual opening instead of a grand opening.  
  11. Need to determine the best path for your church.  Leadership at your church decides the path.  Most of the church is not coming back right away.  This has been taken off the top of our list as the recent racial problems have come to the forefront.
  12. Crises either bring a church together or they tear it apart.  If you lead well during this time, you’ll be able to make harder decisions better in the future.
  13. Questions from participants to Ed: 
    •  What would you identify as one or two of the top missional opportunities?

(Please see full powerpoint for list and explanations at the web address listed above under Relaunching the Church.)  Online as the New Mars Hill, launching virtual small groups, sermon series, mission to vulnerable populations, and church planting/revitalizing.

    • Should leaders be considering pivoting to smaller, more nimble and financially  lighter expressions; and 2, with finite resources (time, attention, and energy) should pastors focus on leading differently in content creation?  Yes, however a lot of people can’t do that.  We’ve got to make nimble meetings part of who we are now.  There are structural expenses that churches can reconsider.  Need more volunteerism from God’s people because finances need to be reset.  We’ve learned about content creation through this, but we need to be sure we’re engaging God’s people in mission and help them stay engaged in mission.  This will have a great impact on revitalization.  
    • How do we help members who want things back to the old normal think differently and lovingly and selflessly about having a new normal?  How would you guide a pastor in leading through that?  Don’t say that you’re doing things on the basis of government recommendations or on the direction of your governor.  People have been seeing their governors and leaders as “the bad guys”.  Don’’t need to bring the political conflict into this.  Say what your church leadership has decided.  Each church will be different on this based on who is in your church; are some high risk?  If you ask people to wear a mask, let people know why this is the best path for your church. If people come in and say they’re not going to wear a mask, then don’t have church that day and let them know why--that we need to love others more than we love ourselves.  You will probably have some people in your church upset with you.  Make sure your leadership knows the decisions.
  1. Question from host to Ed:  Could you say 3 things that are going to be true about the new normal in ministry?  Ed is concerned the new normal might look too much like the old normal.  He hopes the new normal looks like:   1.  A great deployment of God’s people in mission, 2.  How are we going to do evangelism with the heightened sense of openness?  The “front door of the church” might be inviting people to join you in watching streamed service.  3.  Financial reset.  

Information for the Present Moment:

  1.  Need to continue having a discussion on race.  Your words have to be chosen very carefully.  Have a checklist:  say the names of people, have someone help you if needed (silence sends the wrong message).
  2. How to make it through the dance without the dance wearing you out:  many pastors have really been struggling.  (see resource page)  Finish the journey well.  All of us need to take the next step on how to take care of our personal selves.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  3. What are the changes that are going to come and are going to stay? 5 takeaways that will help churches thrive:  external focus, utilizing tech, leveraging facilities (churches have become staging grounds for mission), small groups/equipping families (some leaders are going to be called to plant churches), restructuring finances.
  4. Ed asked what are you leading (doing) now that will have an impact later?  
  5. Questions from participants:  
    • How do we do children’s ministries?  (Children’s and Student Ministries Options are in Ed’s online resources)  Most churches are not offering children’s ministries right now.  Send out a survey to parents to see what would make them feel safe about sending their kids back to Children’s ministries.  Could you offer limited ministry?  Or family ministry?  Some older volunteers might not be coming back.  Long range planning right now is 3 months.  Don’t make promises, but you can say what you are planning on.  You will probably be under-staffed.  If you have people that are pressuring you to open, ask them to help and volunteer and staff the areas that you will need help in.

Next gathering:  August 13, 2020, 11am (ET) featuring Kara Powell

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