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New normal: Church planting during challenging times


Did someone order change?

Nothing will ever be the same. You know it.

Job Juarez

COVID-19 has accelerated change globally in an unprecedented manner. History-shaping events have occurred before, but only a few of them during the last decade of high-tech innovation and information saturation.

For the first time in history, humanity has a front-row seat to live updates of the impact and efforts to contain a novel virus. The worldwide measures to suppress COVID-19 have formed what many are referring to as the "new normality" — physical distancing, new sanitizing methodologies, new soci- etal priorities, new laboring rhythms and a heightened sense of our human fragility. Then again, you know all of this as you are constantly immersed in this new normality.

What about God's mission?

As part of the human ecology, church plants are facing, like the rest of us, the opportunity to coordinate their gospel-advancing efforts in the new normality.

Church plants are uniquely engineered for change: nimble, austere and ready to "pack-and-go." Church plants' high flexibility enables them to face the new normal with a sense of familiarity.

Conversely, church plants often lack a robust volunteer base. Individuals in a church plant's core group serve in a plethora of roles, making them prone to burnout.

Church plants are also in the process of securing financial stability and without a solid strategy, they could face their downfall in the new normality. So how< is the KBC equipping church plants during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Equipping the saints during change

As the Kentucky Baptist Convention's Evangelism Team, we have identified three general categories of the new normality of our church plants.

First, some church plants are recognizing the complexity of the current times and are embracing stillness by dismissing the urgency to meet in person. To these church plants, our team provides counsel on how to strengthen their virtual presence and guidance on reopening pathways.

A second category of church plants is fostering a hybridity in the new normality: They continue their online presence while reopening certain church meetings, such as Sunday school or Sunday worship according to governmental recommendation. Our church planting associates assist these churches with evangelism and community service strategies, leadership development tools and cohort virtual meetings.

The final group of church planters are embracing the intricacy of the new normality and are intentionally transforming their corporate meetings. These churches are opting to have multiple, but smaller, gatherings in which the whole functionality of the body of Christ is represented.

We serve these group of church plants by walking with them in community surveys, intentional rearrangement, leadership development strategies and attempts to explore possible outcomes.

COVID-19 has certainly reshaped civilization's fabric, but not God's plans. Church plants cannot and will not escape the new normality. But they don't want to — they are always in the fore-front of advancing the gospel. And we are here to help them as they are loving their neighbors into the kingdom. Let us know if you or someone you know is considering church plating. We will be honored to talk to you.

Job Juarez is church planting group leader with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He can be reached at job.juarez@kybaptist.org or by calling 502-489-3408.

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