Back in the 60s and 70s, Boxing was a huge sport in America. Many take Mohammad Ali as their favorite, and rightfully so. My favorite boxer, though, was Joe Frazier, an undersized and slow heavyweight. It seemed he could not win. But he learned something; if he fought on the back foot, the bigger heavyweights would knock him out.
He learned to fight on the front foot, always leaning into the bigger boxers, wearing them out, eventually becoming the heavyweight champion. A lot of us have found ourselves on the back foot this last year. How can we get on the front foot and lean into what is next, an effective church of Jesus Christ?
Few things have rocked our churches more than the tsunami of political turmoil, denominational division and then compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not news to pastors and churches because most of us have navigated churches in and through it, praying and hoping for a new, better day.
What is next?
As most of us have been doing, planning the next message series, deciding when we set aside masks and social distancing, wondering if we should add back things as they were, figuring who is coming back and who is not. Should we change some things or change
everything? What will the next big thing be? What will the summer look like? When will a virus stop limiting peoples in-person worship?
I think our prayer is that somewhere there will be a turning point between this last season of chaos and a new season of Kingdom building. Have we thought about attempting to lay a new foundation, a new starting point, a dividing point between what has been and what we pray will be?
Maybe a Revival is the answer (maybe it always is) Yes, I know old fashioned.
- A weeklong series of evening revival services (in-person/online)
- A daily morning worship/Bible study/moment (in-person/online)
- We might include a noon prayer pause (in-person/online)
- Email and social media support and possible mailing, smaller churches can make a few phone calls
- 24-hour prayer with people committing to one hour or 30-minute slots
- Whatever ideas that might work best in each unique context
As much as possible, give everyone a division between what was and what will be, a new memory and experience of God’s presence, community worship, spiritual strength, repentance, forgiving and forgiveness, grace. A new hope that is shared by as many as possible that lays a foundation for what is next for your church and community under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Get back on the front foot as we lead into a very different and prayerfully better future!
Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth