Travel Advisories for the New Road
While we had all hoped the pandemic would be a minor and temporary bump in the road, we all realize now that we are months into it that this is way more than a bump in the road. The road we were on has ended. We can either turn around and go back or choose another route. Some churches have seemingly arrived at the “road closed” sign, but have simply stopped not knowing what to do. We can’t simply stop; we must keep moving. The closed road will not re-open! Going back will only leave the church even more disconnected from culture. Choosing another route is the only faithful next step for us. But choosing a route we are not familiar with can be scary. We are unsure how to prepare to travel unfamiliar roads. We are unsure what to expect. We are unsure what we might find along the way.
Some churches are still stopped at the “road closed” sign. Some churches have chosen to turn around and go back. Some churches have reluctantly, slowly, and cautiously started down the new route. Other churches have found the new route exciting and have already set their cruise control. If your church is not in the latter category, you may be wondering how to prepare for this new journey ahead for your church on this new route. When we take out on trips in our car, we are sometimes met with “travel advisories” provided by the local weather forecaster or highway patrol. The travel advisories provide needed information related to weather, road conditions, traffic patterns to keep us prepared and alert. Likewise, here are some travel advisories for church leaders to consider as they take out on this new route of being the church in this new day:
- With changing road conditions, you may need to consider new drivers.
The staffing that got you this far will likely not take you down this new road. The key staffing needed on this new route is shifting more to communications and technology. Consider how much of your attendance is gathered online and how much of your staffing budget is allocated to serving the online attenders. Also consider where the majority of those you are trying to reach spend their time.
2. You may need to trade in your old vehicle for another model.
The automobile that brought you this far may not be the right vehicle to move you ahead tomorrow and next year. Remember, the mission of making disciples has not changed, but the methods for how we make disciples needs to change. For most of us, our “vehicle” (method) was already struggling in its mission. Now on this new route, the vehicle will certainly not serve our mission field well. It may be fine for those who have been traveling with us thus far, but it has been far too long since a new “passenger” has joined us. It just might be time to trade in our method for a newer model.
3. What we pack in our suitcases may need to be reconsidered.
It is sometimes difficult to decide what to pack to take with us on trips. Some pack too much wanting to be prepared for most any circumstances. Others pride themselves in traveling light only to have to purchase needed items along the way. As churches on this new route, what items we have packed for the trips of the past may not be the same items we need for the trip ahead. The “weather and conditions” have changed and thus our “attire” and other essentials must change, too. These items for re-consideration include schedules, facilities, technology, budgets, staffing, ministries, events, missions, music, worship style, etc. In other words, unpack all your current luggage and examine the contents for their alignment and condition for the new trip. Don’t just take the already packed suitcase on the new trip. If you do so, you will likely find yourself needing sun screen but all you have is a parka!
For the church, we are in a new day on a new route. Before taking off for this new route or getting too far down the road, please take some time to intentionally and strategically plan for this new adventure God is calling the church to take. Otherwise, we may find ourselves broken down on the side of a deserted road in the rain without an umbrella or a cell phone to call for help!