Reimagine…. Leading the church out of lockdown

RoadMap for HBC as we move out of lockdown and restrictions.

“Christ is the Lord of a history that moves. He not only holds the beginning and the end in his hands, but he is in history with us, walking ahead of us to where we are going.”

Thomas Merton

“Beware of harkening back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

In calling this moment an opportunity to reimagine the church we are not denying the suffering of the past year. Instead it is an invitation to reflect so that we can enter into the possibilities of what God is wanting to do at this time. Desmond Tutu captured the feel of this when he was asked if he was optimistic. Tutu said, “I’m not optimistic, no. I’m quite different. I’m hopeful. I am a prisoner of hope.”

So this time is a moment of opportunity for three reasons:

  • The hope that we have founded on Jesus’ Lordship and the promise of his Spirit’s presence with us and guidance.
  • The freedom we have in the church to do things differently. There has been a growing recognition that things will have to change and the lockdown period has forced this change and shown the ability of the church to adapt rapidly and creatively.
  • The evangelistic opportunity. There is the evidence of increased numbers of people who have engaged with church online. The church has been at the forefront of caring for people through such initiatives as ‘Love Your Neighbour’ and foodbanks. The daily death toll and reports from hospitals have presented people with their mortality and fragility. But this time of reflection and transition will not last forever before it is overcome by the clamour to consume our way out of this experience.

As a leadership we want to seize this moment, doing so with love, believing this time of uncertainty and opportunity might be the catalyst for renewal and a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit.

So we are going to offer these 4 phases where we can frame the next 12 months.

Preparation and Reflection                         End of March/April and into May

Recovery and Discovery                             Mid May/June/July and August

Embracing a “new different”                      Sept through to Dec

Thriving in the “new different”                  Jan to March 2022

Preparation and Reflection                        End of March/April and into May

Phase 2 of emerging from lockdown is underway, children are back in school, vaccinations are happening apace, hospitalisations and deaths are dropping and if you’re anything like me you will have a mixed set of emotions as we move through the 4 phases of Boris Johnson’s ‘irreversible’ plan.

We are now able to meet outside in groups of six, and soon it will be up to 30. We could be going back to in person Sunday gatherings  and returning to the workplace and able to hug and greet loved ones.

So how can we prepare ourselves and prepare others for what is ahead and take the journey together?

Asking Questions

The key to responding to the context we are in and adapting is asking the right questions. We will have asked a lot of practical ‘how to?’ questions in the last 12 months. How do I set up a Zoom meeting for the Leadership Team? How do we livestream our services? How can we use a WhatsApp group to keep in touch?  But the questions we need to ask are more fundamental than these.

  1. What have we benefited from during lockdown that we want to take forward with us as we move forward?
  2. What have we missed or lost during lockdown that we want to regain and rebuild?
  3. What has lockdown highlighted for us that we used to do but don’t want to go back to?
  4. What is your testimony of God’s goodness during this pandemic?
  5. What signs of faith, hope and love emerged during the lockdown that we need to explore and build upon?
  6. How will we bear witness to Jesus Christ in this time of insecurity, isolation, and financial distress?

We can also begin to ask questions to help to us as a church to start to imagine what the future could look like together. In this opportunity and the need to reflect, we can begin to think about the future pattern and priorities of our church. We are inviting you to reflect and learn with us as a leadership team.  In particular we would love your feedback on these 3 questions

  • What are the areas of church life that you would welcome exploring with the Leadership Team?
  • What are the practical issues that you feel need addressing immediately?
  • What are the opportunities that you perceive where we might explore trying something new in mission and ministry?

All this needs to be underpinned with prayer! A challenge at this time is how do we hear God’s voice in the midst of so many voices? So we have set aside the month of May for a month of Prayer with Fasting and Worship to seek the Lord and listen to His voice. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).

This was posted on 22 April 2021.