I was in a conversation yesterday about what the church might look like after lockdown. There was a bit of a presentation, and then some questions. Most of the questions seemed to be asking ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions.
How will be be able to worship with social distancing ?
How can we use what we have learned in lockdown ?
What new expressions of church might there be in the light of church on zoom, facebook and Youtube etc?
I remember a few years ago, preparing to lead some sessions on working with difference and conflict in our church.
We had some questions to think about. When would be the best time to do the sessions ? Where would we hold them – in our own church, or at a neutral venue ? How many sessions would we run ? How would we decide which of the material to use ?
All necessary questions relating to the practical delivery of the material.
However …. before we considered any of those questions, it would be more important to ask – Who would we like to be there ?
Since we had a maximum number of 24 places so that we could do some group work, we decided that rather than open it up to anyone, we would focus on who we really wanted to be there. Having key leaders there meant that we would stand a better chance of the learning being spread through the congregation, so we invited the church council to be there, as well as leaders in different areas of church life. This would just about fill our 24 places. We made sure that personal invitations were sent, and on the day we had pretty much all the people we had hoped for.
So I am trying to transfer that thinking to aspects of ‘Church after Lockdown.’ One thought is to try and find out how lockdown has affected not only the church community, but our parish generally. So forgetting the ‘what,’ and the ‘how,’ and the ‘when,’ for a moment, I started thinking about the ‘who.’
The outcome of this might be to invite a cross section of key people in our community. Not too many to make a conversation difficult, and bearing in mind the precautions that would be necessary. So for example, a doctor, a nurse, a leader from another faith, a city councillor, another church leader from a different denomination, a business owner, a teacher, a supermarket worker, etc etc, as well as from our own community a church council member, a member of the congregation ….
I just get the sense that this exercise in focused listening would stand a chance of helping us understand our community better, and how as a Christian community we can serve our neighbourhood.
Grace and peace to all of you who are doing exactly that.