What a year it’s been! Rather than spend time in analysis let’s look to see what 2022 might hold. More of the same you might think, given our excitement at seeing new variants emerge. So what might we expect? What might churches expect this year?
A big reset is underway. Right now, not in a few months time. We’re a lot less willing to put up with second rate. A Premier survey picked up that 63% thought the Church had not adapted well to technology. We logged onto a livestream a couple of weeks back. Had sound but no vision. Gave up and went elsewhere. The bigger churches have generally cracked this. Small to medium churches need to be realistic about what they can deliver.
Churches must invest in the technology that they need to be able to communicate with their members who are reluctant to return to a building. They must make their digital content engaging for their remote audiences. A 40 minute sermon won’t do. Ted talks rarely go above 15 minutes and their speakers know how to capture an audience. My favourite Youtube chef (Jacques Pepin) rarely goes above 5 minutes. We don’t want to promote shallowness, but we do need to lose speakers who like the sound of their own voice.
And when we do leave home for a service, we expect better standards, given that we’ve enjoyed live-streaming good quality worship and well prepared sermons for many months now. Recently a couple of young people I know had to sit through a second rate speaker who droned on for over 40 minutes; will that church be around next Christmas? Will the young people?
Great and amazing opportunities await you this year. Take them. Start with the simplest thing; make sure your pastoral support is spot on. Are the leaders true shepherds, caring for the flock? (Too many leaders command rather than care; this could be a difficult year for many of them.)
What about working from home: WFH is with us to stay; many millions are finding they can be as or more productive working from home 2/3 days a week. If this is you, check your lines aren’t getting blurred. Recently I had a difficult meeting coming up and spent a sleepless night thinking it was Monday, until Anita reminded me that we were off to a church meeting in a couple of hours, and I realised it was Sunday. At 6am I’d started firing off e-mails to colleagues. The terrible thing was to be getting replies! On a Sunday!
Make sure your work life balance is in good order: protect your non-work time; define what’s after hours; block off time appropriately; do not neglect your loved ones, (and that includes you). Guard your time. Make sure WFH is a blessing not a curse.
A Prayer for the New Year
God of all patience, I ask you to gather me
For I realise that the storms of the past year have scattered me into a hundred hiding places, driven me, and scarred me. My activity driven life has wearied me too often.
Strengthen me to lay aside my failures, disappointments, weaknesses.
What I want this year is deliverance from impatience, arrogance, shallowness, thoughtlessness.
What I want is to live each moment, savouring it, being aware of your presence and your passion.
May I see you in every sunrise and every sunset, every flower that opens, every star that shines in the universe that you hold together. May I live for you.