The global crisis created by a new coronavirus has left many churches wondering how to continue their ministries while navigating ever-changing medical guidelines and government restrictions. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) launched a new initiative amid the pandemic to help churches go “back to the basics” and chart a path forward.
“What if this crisis is a means by which Jesus unites the church around a singular mission for the glory of the Father?” Sandy Marks asked in a webinar May 7.
Marks leads the BSC Church Health & Revitalization Team. He co-hosted a slate of webinars called “How to be the church in a post-pandemic world” with Brian Upshaw, BSC Disciple-Making Team leader. The initiative drew 500 registrants across three online meetings May 6-7.
The teaching sessions were focused on helping churches rethink their current mission strategies. Attendees were encouraged to join cohorts of up to 10 other church leaders to meet for six weeks in a peer learning environment.
“We have to work together to share ideas and approaches,” Upshaw said.
Upshaw opened the webinars with teaching resources intended to help church leaders understand the current crisis and how it may impact their congregations.
He said there are three measurements that many churches rely on: buildings, bodies and budgets.
“Those three measurements have been knocked out from under us,” Upshaw said, referring to widespread restrictions on public activity and large gatherings implemented by state and local governments in the wake of COVID-19.
“This pandemic is blowing up the notion of a Sunday-only faith,” he said. “We have to call people back to a purer form of what it means to be a follower of Christ.”
Upshaw encouraged attendees to use the current disruption to reconsider how their church understands basic Christian principles such as discipleship and mission.
“Gather your people together, open the Word of God, and ask, ‘If we have blank slate, based on what we see in the Bible, how should we do church?’”
Marks and Upshaw referred to 12 metrics used by the International Mission Board to determine the “health” of a local church. They focused on four key areas: mission, leadership, fellowship and giving.
Upshaw urged church leaders to avoid “cookie cutter” ideas for how to move forward during the current crisis. “We need a sanctified imagination,” he said.
“The BSC staff wants to help churches take their next best step in making disciples,” Upshaw told the Biblical Recorder in an email. “That step will not necessarily be the same for each church, and that’s why these cohorts are so important.”