How are you doing? How is your church doing? I’m hearing all sorts of things from churches and pastors during these days of the pandemic. I’m hearing amazing stories of churches adapting. I’m also hearing that rather than slowing down, life seems to have sped up, and now many of us are feeling ZOOM fatigue.

In the midst of all this, I’m wondering… How are you and your leadership going to take time to catch your breath and reflect? Many times, Jesus would take time away after a hectic day with the crowds and reflect and pray. When will you and your leaders do this?

What have you learned from your church’s experience during this time of social distancing? Many times we discover what we truly value in times of stress. These are our core values. They guide our decision making. What values have become evident the past six weeks? Are they values upon which Christ can build His church? If not, how will you begin to change them?

As you begin to look ahead, what will you want to take with you? What will church life be like? The United Methodist Church’s church-planting arm, called Path 1, encourages churches to view this time as a unique opportunity to relaunch. In fact, it has resources to help a church to do just that.

What if you don’t stop your virtual worship services once you return to your sanctuary? What if you continue to offer an on-line option? During this period, you probably have attracted persons who are unlikely to show up to your church or who live in other communities but have made connections with your church. How will you minister to your virtual congregation as well as your in-person congregation? How can you intentionally connect virtually with and disciple those who have no interest in church?

We may return to our churches in the coming month, but we’ll not be the same church we were, nor will our world be the same. Jesus talked about how we need to put new wine into new wineskins. Folks this is a “new-wineskin” moment! Let’s not miss the opportunity to rethink church! It’s time to consider relaunching! How will you do that?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development