As many of you know, I wear three hats; I pastor, I teach, and I do financial consulting. This does not include raising the cub, being a Boy Scout leader, and wounding if I still have ADD. So, during the pandemic I was crazy busy, keeping churches open in new ways, and helping businesses not go bankrupt while teaching all online for almost two years. This is what I learned:
Besides a hinge or a fulcrum, pivot means to “undergo a fundamental change in strategy.” This involves a change in direction in life, business, or church while still keeping the same vision and mission. Changing the way we do things to adapt our demographics, setting, and environment.
Churches and business that survived and even prospered during COVID, learned to pivot.
Churches and Businesses that learned to pivot changed the way they do business or worship to connect and keep their people. A case in point is two restaurants I worked with, I explained to them how to pivot, that is to create a drive-up takeout service along with online ordering, incorporate the delivery services like Grubhub, and use incentives like coupons and text and email alerts. One did this and bloomed, in fact, they were busier than before the pandemic. They did not like the delivery service’s surcharges, but the drive-up takeout system was a winner and kept them open and even thriving. The other, well, he just did not want to try anything new. He said, “my customers love me; they know where I am…” All he did was throw out his expensive rotting supplies and permanently lay off his people. I tried and tried to help him; he just did not want to make any changes. Now his restaurant is closed. Ironically, his food was far better than the one that stayed open.
The key that made the difference was service over quality. Well, do not sacrifice quality for service. People come for an easier more convenient experience.
And now the post-COVID church is seeing a decline with in-person attendees. They still, the majority that is, 50-75% of them, are at home in their pajamas, holding their coffee watching it all on YouTube or Facebook Live. And, as I write this, it does sound appealing. You do not have to wake up early, get the family ready, sometimes a herculean challenge, hunt for parking, and so forth. Staying at home is so much easier. Even as a pastor, I missed the in-person very much, but I saved money on gas, got some more sleep and I did not have to wear pants.
The key point that churches who are successful are doing something simple; they learned to pivot and adapt to a new paradigm. They found a way to connect and keep people engaged even while they were at home.
The pastors and leaders in these churches that thrived, fought for the community to continue. In so doing, the question was asked, what can we do to connect with the people on Zoom, Facebook, and such who are at home for the greatest fruit and the Gory of God. They had distance in-person gatherings and online special gatherings, and everyone was called and listened to at least once a month. They also kept the discipleship and Bible studies going, online and continuing. And, they did not stop developing leaders or forsake their mission and vision. And they are still doing this even when over half of the people are still at home. Thus, what is the mission of your church is continual, because thus far it does not look like we are going back to the way things were.
What is happening now? Successful churches are encouraging everyone to come at least once a month in person. And have a special time of prayer and worship. It all came down to this idea, fight for community and teach that we all need one another, even us introverts. If you do this along with Biblical preaching, discipleship, surrendered prayer, and devotion to Christ, then we are doing our jobs right!