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Thom Rainer: Doing Church Differently in 2021

doing church differently

As I am writing this article, I was notified that my grandson, Joshua, had broken his ankle. My granddaughter, Collins, broke her arm this year. My son, Sam, broke his leg a month ago. And my wife, Nellie Jo, broke her wrist earlier this year. That’s four different Rainer families with broken bones in the same year. 2020. Ugh. Come quickly 2021! For certain, there are many of us looking forward to leaving 2020 behind and entering a new year. We anticipate that 2021 will be much better. Indeed, we have every reason to believe it will be a better year. As our team works with church leaders, we are often asked what change or pivot toward 2021 their churches should make for doing church differently. Though this list is not exhaustive, we find ourselves making these five recommendations consistently.

5 Recommendations On Doing Church Differently in 2021

 1. Triple the amount of time your church dedicates to outreach to the community.

It’s all about the Great Commission. For years, many of our churches have gradually reduced their commitment to reaching their communities. We are incredibly excited that thousands of churches have adopted Pray and Go (see www.PrayAndGoChurch.com) with a new commitment to make a difference where they live.

 2. Have a backup budget.

The economic outlook for 2021 is murky, but we do see some troubling signs. Indeed, we are already beginning to hear from church leaders whose churches are showing signs of deteriorating finances. We are encouraging many leaders to have a backup plan for doing church differently if giving does not meet expectations. 

3. Move from incremental change to substantive change.

In the past, I advocated an “eating an elephant” posture toward change in established churches. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, and thus you lead change in a church one small step at a time. I can no longer advocate incremental change. We simply do not have the time to wait on people like we once did. If we wait on some of the more resistant people in our church to change, we may have closed the doors long before they are ready. 

 4. Cut back on the clutter and activities.

Many of our churches are simply too busy. We are sacrificing our families and opportunities to develop relationships in the community because of church calendars. COVID has given us a new opportunity to focus on doing a few things well in our churches. The simple church will become the effective church. 

5. Approach ministry with a church planter mindset.

I have called this new opportunity “the blank slate.” Instead of doing things the way we’ve always done them, ruthlessly evaluate everything your church is doing. If your church were starting anew, what would it start doing? What would it stop doing? COVID has given us a new opportunity to rethink church. Don’t let the opportunity pass. 

I am watching the calendar closely. For sure, 2020 has not been a stellar year for many of us. But it has been a season where we can re-evaluate our lives and our ministries. Indeed, it can lead us to 2021 with a new enthusiasm for ding church differently in our churches and for the people we lead and love.

So, come quickly 2021. There are incredible opportunities just around the corner.

This article on doing church differently originally appeared here, and is used by permission.