“The church needs to pivot.”
Some form of that phrase has been said by influential church leaders all around the world. It makes sense, the church is facing the unprecedented task of ministering to congregations without meeting in person. So all over the world, churches are using creative means of taking the church experience from the physical world to the virtual world. Ministries are learning how to effectively use Zoom, youth groups are learning that Netflix party can be fun, and our church itself has learned how to provide a full worship experience on YouTube. Churches are learning how to pivot, they are reimagining what it means to do ministry in a virtual world, and they’ve come up with extremely creative new ideas.
However, is that enough?
With so many churches pivoting online, I’ve noticed my social media feed blowing up with encouraging quotes and Bible verses. When I log on to YouTube on Sunday mornings, I see our church’s live service listed with every other church doing live services. The reality is that we are being inundated with online offerings, because everyone is sensing this need to pivot online. So should we stop? Not at all! But we can certainly be thinking more critically about our “pivot".
I was chatting with a college minister friend of mine about how Covid has affected her ministry. She replied, “it has helped us realise what’s most important: relationships.”
People are still yearning to be known; they want friendships and community. They want to know that their church cares about them and that God loves them.
If we make the pivot about the medium of the church (physical vs. online) instead of the function of the church (events vs. relationship) then we miss the whole point of it all. That is not to say that there is no place for events in the church (if that were true I would be out of the job), but it is to say that in the absence of church activity we have been given a golden opportunity to invest in relationships.
We don’t go to church, or watch church, we are the church. Which means that we function best when we build loving relationships with one another. Perhaps the pivot we need to be making is to go even smaller: from small groups to one-on-one friendships; from ministry gatherings, to coffee dates.