Dear St. John Family,

We recognize that our nation is divided on many issues. The work of the church will be vital as we seek ways to bring about unity in the midst of our differences. In light of all that has taken place, we realize that the world and the church has shifted. It will be slow for physical congregations to come back to 100% attendance, even after all quarantines are lifted. Potentially we will have more worshippers out of the room than in the room. We will be more committed to connecting over just gathering. Instead of trying to fill sanctuaries, we must fulfill the mission of Christ.

In the past we have used the internet to get people into the building; now we will start using our facilities to get people online. In a recent survey 71% of Baby Boomers prefer physical worship over digital or online worship.  Yet 41% of Gen Z prefer digital worship to physical worship.  I suspect as we move forward those percentages will increase. We, the church, will have to be actively seeking and trying new ways to communicate the love of Jesus Christ.

What, today, are “unchurched” people looking for? Well, it’s not ideology. What they are looking for is Christ.  Let’s make sure this is what we are offering and not our own political agenda.  2021 will be messy. The leaders in the church will have to try new things, look for creative solutions, and not just point to the problems. Maybe whether we see it or not, 2020 has forced the church to seek to become more relevant to a hurting world and to become more connected to the digital age. 2021 will continue to have surprises: some of our ideas won’t work, we will have to continue to make some excellent mistakes, there will be some chaos, and it will be wonderful. I am hopeful for the days ahead.

Jody Alderman

PS.     In light of all of this I urge you to pray for our Upcoming Lenten Season (Ash Wednesday is February 17). Our theme for Lent will be entitled Holy Vessels.  We will be looking at ways to heal. Be in prayer for your clergy and staff as we make those preparations.

(Thoughts from this article were taken from Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson’s  recent address at https://vimeo.com/499308684 and from “8 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2021” by Carey Nieuwhof.)

Click here for our full February newsletter.