our King of kings
will recreate His church
after the 'crowned' virus
The Rocky Mountain American Baptist
A Newsletter of the American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains
“Re-creation” after Covid-19
Note: Back in February when we were making the decision to go to a bimonthly format, we identified the theme for this newsletter to be “Recreation” with an eye towards the coming summer months, camping and our human need to recreate. But apparently God had other plans. The coronavirus came to bear, and we now find ourselves not sure what the summer will hold for us either in the way of recreation, camping and the things we thought to promote and encourage.
One thing is clear though, God is using this time to RE-CREATE the church. Those churches that survive this time of shelter-in-place, stay-at-home and social distancing will have changed and will not be able to go back fully to the way they were!
And so, we introduce this edition of the RMAB with the theme of “Re-creation” and articles about several of the things we on staff and other invited authors see coming as a result. We hope you will enjoy reading these articles and reflecting on how these thoughts might apply to your situation and congregation. -- (Steve Van O and the ABCRM Staff).
About this month's edition
What's in this bimonthly issue?
Re-creating Church 'Hardware'
The computer age introduced us to the concepts of hardware and software and their innate differences. With software, the same kind of hardware can do different things. Alternatively, there are times that you are unable to run specific software due to outdated hardware. Thus the importance of having up-to-date hardware.
As we look at the future of the church, especially post-Covid-19, it is apparent that the church will have to be able to adapt and to change quickly while at the same time preserving critical parts of the past. And, as with computers, the church may have to upgrade some of its hardware in order to do this.
Steve Van Ostran
The church’s hardware are the physical things that are part of a church, things like our building, our style of governance, and our giving mechanisms.
Church Buildings: Perhaps the most visible piece of a church’s “hardware” is its physical building. While we all know the church is not the building, the reality is most of us form a mental link between “church” and the building. Traditionally, the church building has served three functions:
Temple or Tabernacle – a place where the people come to encounter the "Holy".
Community Center – think Little House on the Prairie and the role of the church building not only for worship, but also for school and for community meetings. Church buildings often have served as the place for large community gatherings. These functions will still need to occur in the future church, but the Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated yet again that the building serves the function, but the function is not dependent upon the building. While the success of live-streaming might suggest that a physical space is no longer necessary, there is a reality that we form a powerful bond to a particular place and there will always be a need for Holy space. However, most churches will need to continue and to perfect their “live streaming” capabilities for prospective and new members.
Mission Control – The church building has served as the training and control center for the church’s mission. Whether it was a “knock on doors” evangelism effort or leadership training, the place to gather has generally been the church building.
Leadership Structure: The Covid-19 crisis has made it apparent that there is a need for a flexible and adaptive leadership structure in the church. While firmly committed to “congregational polity” for the overall vision and direction of a church, the rapidity of change in modern culture dictates that the execution of modern ministry be guided by a smaller group. Many Baptist churches have moved from a traditional deacon board to an elder board who has the power to make the decisions necessary in this environment. In truth, smaller churches that have not adopted an “elder” system have often functioned de facto in this manner. Whatever form it takes, future leadership structure must allow for this rapid adaptability.
Funding and Stewardship: The final piece of church “hardware” I want to consider is the giving function in the church. Traditionally, our churches have provided for the function of their church through the Sunday morning offering.
We have understood our “tithes” to be an obligation of the members of the church to support the function and ministry of the church – whether the church was insistent upon the Old Testament mandate of 10% or more flexible. Gifts and offerings were understood as those contributions for other functions like missionary offerings and special ministries of the church as well as gifts from non-members done as an act of worship.
Today, not only is “cash no longer king” but in a culture where worship does not necessarily take place in the same place or time, the church must rethink how we receive tithes and offerings in the church. Churches must look at forms of electronic giving.
For “tithing”, the easiest function is often the giver’s online bill pay option at their bank. This allows regular giving without the church or giver incurring a user fee. But this does not help with those who are visiting the church, either online or live. For that reason, churches need to have options for people to give electronically both on the website and in some “app based” point of sale method. Experts advise that churches should first check with their accounting and church management software companies to see what integrated solutions might already exist. Failure to do so can mean the loss of potential ministry revenue.