A New Church for a New World

A six-week journey toward thriving in a pandemic-altered world

© Copyright by John van de Laar, 2021

Where?        Crowthorne Methodist Church

When?           Wednesday evenings from 6th October – 10th November 8pm

Who?              Open to anyone with an interest in finding out more

Why?            Because we want not only to survive but thrive as church communities

How?             We will watch the talks on a large screen in church as they go out live.

There will be opportunities for discussion both during and after each talk.

The six weeks will be shaped around the following six themes:

WEEK ONE Coming to Grips With the New World

The pandemic has been more than a global health crisis. It has shifted our world in multiple ways—and many of those ways have impacted faith communities profoundly. The pandemic has also affected every town, city and country differently. To build a strategy for navigating this new world, we first need to grasp the changes that have happened and how they affect us. Then we need to work through false hopes, unlikely predictions, and our own fears so that we can discern what is required for us to thrive in the future. This session is designed to provide these insights and help us observe our own communities more carefully, think more critically, and dream more creatively.

WEEK TWO A New Worshipping Community

In the last 18 months most churches have found ways to move their worship online. But for most of us, that move has been shaped and defined by how we used to do worship before lockdowns happened. We haven’t known how to reimagine worship for the online space. In this session we will explore principles and best practices for online worship, offering strategies for any budget (including none). We will also explore the challenges and benefits of developing an intentional, creative online worship strategy and how to ensure your ministry remains sustainable for the long haul. We will also explore how online worship could potentially be affecting what people expect and need from in-person worship. This session will help us develop a guide for both online and in-person services.

WEEK THREE A New Caring Community

For decades—if not centuries—the pastor/minister was the centre of the Church community, and the primary caregiver to the congregation. But in recent times, clergy burnout has become a growing and disturbing trend. Few congregations function as true communities and few church leaders know how to move their churches toward a deeper sense of true community. In this session we will explore the purposes and characteristics of authentic community and how to nurture those qualities in your own church. We will also explore new ways of caring for a faith community and providing healthy pastoral care for members in their times of crisis.

WEEK FOUR A New Growing Community

Most pastors/ministers know that they are not the only voice shaping the faith and discipleship of their community, but few know how to help their people engage with different faith perspectives and theological approaches in healthy and meaningful ways. Most discipleship programs have little impact on the real lives of people. And most teaching courses are designed around the sharing of information rather than leading people through an authentic process of transformation. In this session we will explore what disciple is and how life change actually happens. We will also come to grips with how the new, online world is informing and shaping the faith of our communities. We will then explore how to develop meaningful discipleship, teaching, and transformation both online and offline.

WEEK FIVE A New Serving Community

In many church communities, mission, outreach, and serving our neighbourhood have been done through programs or specific events and people who are set aside to do the work of service on behalf of the church. This strategy has become increasingly unsustainable and ineffective. And it leaves most people feeling that they are not ‘called’ or ‘gifted’ for service. In this session we will reimagine what it means to be a serving church and how to draw the entire congregation into serving your community. We will explore new ways of thinking about mission, evangelism, and outreach, and we will help you to discern what priorities your community should embrace as you reach out to your neighbourhood.

WEEK SIX A New Way of Sustaining Community

The majority of churches in our world today struggle to sustain themselves financially, structurally, and meaningfully. Church too easily and too often becomes a routine of going through motions and fighting to survive. Traditional ways of funding ministry are not working as they once did and are inadequate for the needs of most communities. And the systems and structures of many communities are outdated and unable to support the complexity of the work. In this final session we will explore innovative ways to fund ministry. And we will examine various technologies and platforms to streamline systems and structures. We will also review the entire course and ensure that all the action steps you have developed for your community are remembered and able to be put in motion.