Going small, Rethinking Outreach in a Post-Quarantine World
How do we move forward?
I have tried to keep my finger on the pulse of the event industry.
There are very few signs at this point that things are waking up, let alone getting back to normal. Experts speculate that there will be a group of people that will work to get back to normal, but the majority will be very slow and may resist ever going back to normal. Lives have been permanently altered and new patterns have been developed.
It typically takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days for new habits to become systematic. Our brains have rewired with new ways of relating to others, thinking about crowds, big events and doing things on a mass scale.
What does this mean for the church?
I hear Christians and pastor’s utter a battle cry of sorts, “Let’s get back to normal.” I get it. I’d like my business and my ministry to get back to normal. However, saying we are going “normal” has never really been a battle cry filled with excitement or vision. What historical leader rose to the occasion with the vision of “normal?” Crickets.
The search phrase “Change the world” was searched twice as many times in 2020 than “back to normal.”
Why? There is inspiration behind the idea of “Change the world.” What if the church can take the best of “normal” and infuse “change the world” into it? That is what we call adaptive leadership. The ability to go off the map and lead in a new and unfamiliar direction.
What the church is familiar with, is the attempt to get as many people in one worship service or at one event. Pastors have tired of preaching to empty seats and faceless cameras.
What if we pivoted our focus moving forward from content to connection.
What if we begin to emphasize connection over crowds and content?
As we emerge from COVID people will be desiring community and connection. There is no lack of content, even Christian content. It is overwhelming how many ministries produce great content with teams of people. Pastor, your content will not overwhelm anyone, let’s be honest. There are teams of talented people producing great Christian content, messages, sermons, and music.
But here is what the large, national parachurch ministries can’t do. They can’t do community for your church. They cannot personally connect your people. Carey Nieuwhof said that “no one should out local the local church.” What if our strength all along has been overlooked?
God uses the small.
He used His Son Jesus, the carpenter nobody from Nazareth. God raised up David, the obscure and unimpressive disciples. He raised up you and me. He speaks in a still small voice. He goes after the one, leaving the 99 behind. Jesus had His own small group of disciples of 12 men and even a smaller inner circle of three. God works in the small to do BIG things.
I believe people will be looking for community and connection in small ways. The church should consider decentralizing ministry. We must allow and encourage ministry to take place on a smaller scale. What the staff or church once did as a whole should now be broken down to a smaller level. The fellowship that took place church wide should be attempted in dozens of small groups across your town. The BIG outreach event may be approached through a dozen backyard bbq’s or block parties with a few families across your city. That Sunday school class of 30 or 40 should become half a dozen micro groups that meet in various places and various times.
Of course, this is a total conflict of interest for me. I am a guy that promotes events and makes my living on events. Part of me hopes that I am wrong. When events and large gatherings slowly come back I hope that we will have learned in a greater way how to maximize connection and community in those venues.
If I can help you in any way about brainstorming outreach in a post covid world reach out to me and take advantage of our outreach focused demographic reports to help you know your community.