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Re-Creating The New Normal
April 6, 2020, 12:00 PM

   When you’re drowning is not the time to discuss how to patch the hole in the boat.  During these days of the Coronavirus pandemic, social distancing and self-imposed isolation is not the time to discuss the life and work of the local Christian church.  But very soon, these events will be behind us.  And when they are, there may be a tendency to rush back into the old familiar patterns of behaviors and preferences.  That may very well not be the best thing to do.  The advice I am giving people is, “You cannot resolve new challenges with old responses.”  Here are some various church leaders who share some thoughts about the ‘post-pandemic church’.  Please take some time to read these brief essays. 


1.  View this crisis not as something to endure, but as an opportunity to improve. 
2.  As a leader, evaluate what you’re learning about your own idols – and genuinely repent today in preparation for leading tomorrow.
3.  Don’t look forward only to your congregation gathering again, but look forward to sending them out to a world more connected than we’ve ever considered.
4.  Capitalize on what’s working today, and let it become part of your ministry.
5.  Remember that fallen human beings tend to return to our idols after the crisis is past – and we leaders must help avoid that pattern.
6.  Don’t go through this crisis by acting first and praying second—and, reverse that pattern in your long-term ministry DNA.
7.  If you’re a pastor, build genuine friendships and support systems with other pastors.

   Dr. Chuck Lawless was awarded a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Evangelism/Church Growth from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is the Dean of Doctoral Studies and Vice-President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions.  In addition, he is Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  He has served as pastor of two churches.  He is a conference leader and author of several books.  He is also president of the Lawless Group, a church consulting firm (  He and his wife, Pam, have been married for more than 20 years, and they live in Wake Forest, North Carolina. 



1.  What lessons can you learn from the digital world that you can apply anew on the other side of the pandemic?  How can you do church differently digitally?
2.  How can you re-discover your community?  How can you learn fresh their needs?  How can you reach them with the gospel?  We have a tool called “Know Your Community”.  It’s a great place to start.
3.  What should your stewardship look like beyond the pandemic?  Should you make some radical changes in how your church funds are used?
4.  Will COVID-19 cause you to rethink how you use your facilities?  Can they be used for a greater gospel purpose?
5.  Those who create dissension in your church kill its spirit.  Will you be willing to deal with them forthrightly in the future?
6.  How will your church connect and relate to other churches?  Are new models on the horizon?  Should you be a part of a new model?
7.  Is the Sunday-morning-only experience for most churchgoers about to die?  How should you respond?
8.  What changes would you make if you tossed out the old church calendar and started from a blank slate?
9.  Read the book of Acts.  Read the letters to the early churches.  What changes does your church need to make to become a New Testament church?
10. What does church staffing look like with a blank slate?  Is it time to shift models? 


   Dr. Thom Rainer is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama.  He earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is the founder and CEO of Church Answers and led the Rainer Group for 15 years.  Prior to founding Church Answers, he served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  He also served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 12 years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a conference speaker and author of dozens of books.  He and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons. 




1.  Hit the reset button, not the pause button. 
2.  Keep as many employed as possible.
3.  Experiment creatively.
4.  Stop complaining . . . now and forever.
5.  Comply with the government’s request not to gather. 


   Dr. Sam Rainer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Financing at the University of South Carolina, a Master of Arts degree in Missiology from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas.  He currently serves as the lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church (in Florida).  He also serves as co-host the ‘Est.Church podcast’, president of Church Answers, the co-founder and co-owner of Rainer Publishing and the president of Revitalize Network.  He is married to Erin and they have four children.




1.  Digital church is here to stay.
2.  Virtual and flexible staff teams will be the new normal.
3.  Churches will shift their focus from Sunday to every day.
4.  Leaders will start to think multi-site.
5.  The sermon will be reborn. 


   Carey Nieuwhof holds degrees in law, theology and history.  He formerly served as a lawyer and was the founding pastor of Connexus Church in Barrie, Ontario.  He is a conference speaker, author of books and blogs and a podcast host.  He is married to Toni and they have two grown sons. 




1.  Digital church is here to stay.
2.  Virtual and flexible staff teams will be the new normal.
3.  Churches will shift their focus from Sunday to every day.
4.  Leaders will start to think multi-site.
5.  The sermon will be reborn. 


   Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest churches in California and Hawaii.  He holds two honorary doctorate degrees.  He serves on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelism Association and is the founder of the Harvest crusades.  He is an author, host of radio and television programs, conference and crusade speaker.  He and his wife, Catherine, live in Newport Beach, California and had two adult sons, one of whom died in an accident. 




1.  Digital, online spaces for worshipping and connecting are catching on.
2.  Your people are getting used to having multiple options for faithful, sacrificial, worshipful giving to/through their local church.
3.  Your community is being inundated with your church’s online presence.
4.  Personal, physical interaction is being avoided, and that will not be changed overnight.
5.  Small groups in your church are beginning to see value in meeting as a group at less traditional times and from the comfort of their own homes.
6.  Families are being forced to worship and have devotions together in their own homes—and it’s about time.
7.  The gospel is reaching further and stronger than ever.  


   Tony Wolfe holds degrees from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas; Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.  He is the Director of Pastor/Church Relations for the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention.  Previously, Tony served Southern Baptist churches in Texas and Louisiana for 18 years in the areas of music, worship, education and the pastorate.  He has authored several books.  He and his wife Vanessa were married in 2001 and have two sons. 




Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup

1.  We need to treat COVID-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime change that is likely to affect our lives and organizations for years.
2.  The majority of businesses and nonprofits are “effectively out of business” as of today, in that the underlying assumptions that sustained their organization are no longer true.
3.  The priority of leaders must be to set aside confidence in their current playbook as quickly as possible.
4.  The creative potential for hope and vision is unparalleled right now – but paradoxically this creativity will only be fully available to us if we also make space for grief and lament.
5.  We write this out of love for Christian organizational leaders and their work, with humility in a time of considerable uncertainty, and a prayerful hope that we are proven wrong by God, in his gracious providence, working miraculously through human ingenuity in this season. 


   Andy Crouch is partner for theology and culture at Praxis.  Andy has served as Executive Editor of Christianity Today and served the John Templeton Foundation as Senior Strategist for Communication.  He serves on the governing boards of Fuller Theological Seminary and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.  He lives with his family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. 

   Kurt Keilhacker is chairman of the board of Praxis, as well as Managing Partner at Elementum Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital firm.  He also currently serves on the Dean's Council at Harvard Divinity School and on the AMG Funds Board.  Kurt is a graduate of Wheaton College and earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, an MLA from Stanford and an MTS from Harvard. 

   Dave Blanchard is co-founder and CEO of Praxis.  Dave is passionate about encouraging Christian-led entrepreneurship that has a positive impact on society. To this end, he co-founded and leads Praxis, which works to motivate, educate, and resource Christians to pursue redemptive entrepreneurship, to renew the spirit of the age.  He has a BA from Babson College, an MBA & MEM from Northwestern, and lives in Manhattan, where he is part of Church of the City.




1.  Pray for the lost.
2.  Get people excited about coming back together.
3.  Plan now for your reentry service.
4.  Stress the importance of meeting face-to-face.
5.  Assuring people that you are ready for their return.
6.  Be prepared to meet needs.
7.  Don’t miss the lessons learned. 


   Andy McDonald is a regional consultant for the North Central Region of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.  He has a Bachelor’s degree from William Tyndale Bible College in Detroit, Michigan and a Master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  He has served churches in Michigan and Kentucky as both a student minister and lead pastor.  Andy is a veteran of the U.S. Army. 


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