Note: this post is the seventh entry of a series entitled, “Rebuilding the Sunday School/Small Group Ministry in the Local Church.”
Author: J Cardinell, Associate Pastor of Education, Fairview Baptist Church, Coushatta, LA
Twenty-twenty forced us to adapt to an unprecedented reality. We adapted how we worked, how our children went to school, how we shopped, and how we went to church—all from home. As ministers and staff members, the last adaptation especially challenged us. We adapted to livestreamed services, Zoom small groups, video small group, and much more. Now, as we return to our church buildings and offices, let us not stop adapting. While 2021 might not forceus to adapt like 2020 did, the new year provides an Adaptation Opportunity to foster lifelong, transformational discipleship.
To adapt to something requires change. Change can result in a reorganization of ministries and structures. I cannot tell you what adaptations you should make or what should be reorganized in your church, because I do not know your people, culture, or context. But let me suggest: If the local church is going to seize the Adaptation Opportunity it might help to ask some questions. I want to share with you a few questions I have been asking myself as I Look Back, Look Around, and Look Forward.
What Were We (Are We) Doing Well, And How Can I Build On That? Each ministry has its sweet spot. Maybe it is good teaching, fellowship, or outreach. Now is the time to highlight what you do well. Call together your champions in these areas and empower them to do what they do best.
What Were We (Are We) Doing Poorly, And How Can I Improve On That? Likewise, each ministry has places where they fall short. Now is the time to seek out new champions to take on these struggling areas. This might mean they stop doing something they are good at so they can start doing something they are great at doing.
What New Ministry Opportunities Do You See? The essential point here is not new opportunities, but new ones that you see. The last year has highlighted different aspects of discipleship ministry. Determining which of these are positive and helpful will open doors for transformational growth.
What New Ministry Challenges Do You See? These challenges could include the loss of key leadership, declining budget numbers, lower attendance, or a general air of malaise. Each challenge calls for a different response, but each can also be an opportunity. Prayerfully consider how to turn your challenges into an opportunity to reorganize and adapt for transformational discipleship.
Where Do We Want To Go: The preceding questions help determine your present situation. Now is the time to fix your eyes on a destination. This is probably not the time for a five-year strategic plan. Looking forward to Fall or Christmas will allow you to set attainable goals and establish “wins” for your ministry leaders.
Who Do We Want To Be: Looking forward will give you the opportunity to proceed with missions and ministries. Now is the time, though, to examine the focal points of those ministries and align them to God’s vision for the church. As you adapt and reorganize, you also have the opportunity to shape the essence of your spiritual formation ministry.
Adaptation and reorganization can be challenging for people, but as my pastor says, “It is hard for people to be down on what they are up on.” Communication is essential at this time. I encourage you to go through an exercise similar to the one above with key leadership and seize this Adaptation Opportunity to foster lifelong, transformation discipleship.