(CC) Peter Marty–Six predictions for the post-pandemic church

….as social gathering places (at least ones where people can meet without paying) get put on the endangered species list and remote work opportunities cocoon more and more people, as anchoring institutions of society move their activities online and plenty of us shift our purchasing, learning, and even medical care to the internet, the gathered church becomes an ever more precious entity.

Thirst will increase for authentic community where moral formation and relationships of meaning can prosper. In social isolation, we have learned the truth of Frederick Buechner’s words: “You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own.” Congregations will play a heightened role in providing thick human community.

Second, worship during the pandemic has taught us that churches can be liberated from a fixation on counting. Church leaders have worked feverishly over the last year to try to calculate their church rolls and virtual attendance figures. But faith at its center is a transcendent mystery that refuses to be measured. Numbers depersonalize. If denominations and congregations can catch the spirit, there’s refreshing new freedom to be found in leaving religious bean counting behind.

Third, the ability to conduct worthwhile ministry online throughout the pandemic has upended some of our obsessiveness over our church buildings. We’ve learned to live rich lives of faith independent of them. By the same token, we’ve also seen scores of people moved to tears just reentering sacred spaces that have shaped their spiritual and emotional being. Our extended experience with virtual church may allow us to appreciate our buildings as hubs for mission without idolizing them—a healthy reset.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture