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When Interruptions Become Disruptions

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How would you describe the pandemic’s effect on your church?

More specifically, how would you describe the pandemic’s effect on your ministry model?

That question may not seem significant on the surface. After all, a post-pandemic world is sure to arrive eventually. But your answer most likely goes in one of two directions, and that, my friends, is significant.

Interruption or Disruption

It’s evident that many leaders see the pandemic as an interruption. A significant interruption, but an interruption nevertheless.

Interruptions are no doubt problematic. Interruptions are like pause buttons. Interruptions give us time to reflect and adjust. These moments can be constructive encouragement to look at things differently.

But, and this is critically important, interruptions mostly pause our way of executing our current model. We may look at something differently during an interruption, but looking isn’t behaving. When the interruption ends, and you press the play button again, we resume “business as usual.” Some things might look different, but these alterations are primarily surface changes, not strategic adjustments.

That’s the difference between an interruption and a disruption.

Disruptions aren’t simply more extensive interruptions. Disruptions are destructive. Disruptions force innovation and require leaders to look and behave differently. Disruptions challenge leaders to swallow their pride. Admitting a strategy and model you created and implemented no longer works is not easy. Disruption causes leaders to look and behave differently. Disruptions devastate the old way of doing things. That includes your tried and true ministry model of yesteryear.

If interruptions drive introspection, disruptions demand innovation.

So, Is the Pandemic an Interruption or a Disruption?

Complete and utter disruption! Leaders who interpret the pandemic as an interruption are currently attempting to wait it out until things can “return to normal.” That ain’t happening, folks. The old normal is just that — old. It’s gone for good. The pandemic is not a pause button. Churches cannot return to prior ministry strategies and experience previous levels of success.

If you hear yourself saying, “When more people are vaccinated…”, or, “Eventually people will feel comfortable gathering again…”, or even, “Church is meant for in-building gatherings…”, you’re seeing this moment in time as an interruption.

These are interruption assumptions. And these assumptions are wholly incorrect. Sure, vaccinations help, and people will most likely feel more comfortable with crowds in time. But the pandemic didn’t create the downturn in attendance frequency. This trend was alive and well before the pandemic. Like most crises, the pandemic didn’t create but instead accelerated the trend.

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gavinadams@churchleaders.com'
Gavin Adams believes the local church is the most important organization on the planet and he is helping to transform them into places unchurched people love to attend. As the Lead Pastor of Watermarke Church, (a campus of North Point Ministries), Watermarke has grown from 400 to 4000 attendees in five years. A student of leadership, communication, church, and faith, Gavin shares his discoveries through speaking and consulting. Follow him at @Gavin_Adams and at gavinadams.com.