In some ways, the role of the local parish church has not changed through the current crisis. At a basic level, people are still looking for refuge from all the craziness of the world around us. We can be a place of stability and civility, a place of hope and help.
In some ways the role of the local parish church has not changed, in other ways, it has changed forever. Because more than ever people are looking for leadership to lead through and beyond this crisis, into the new world that will be post-Covid.
We have an opportunity, I think, perhaps an unprecedented opportunity to step up to a position of impact and importance and influence in people’s lives. An unprecedented opportunity to form and inform the future of the church, what church in the future even looks like.
If you think about it, everything that we have done, everything that we have invested in recent years:
- the Vision Campaign & building program
- the concentration on technology
- the expansion of our programs/services, missions/ministries/ the expansion of the staff
have all been preparatory for this opportunity. As a consequence we face this opportunity, we meet this moment with confidence, creativity, and clarity. Confidence, based on all our advantages and the advantageous position we are blessed with. Creativity, based on the assembled talent of our team. Clarity, based on faith.
We are clear, at least we’re becoming clear, that there are two ways in which we are church: on Ridgely Road and online. We’re committed to both.
But we are also clear that we are going to be a mobile-first church, a church of digital discipleship. We’re not just using online church to get people back in the church building for a return to business as usual. We’re using the church building as a platform to reach new people online.
Are we sure of everything that means? No, we are all figuring that out together and are dedicated to doing so because everyone we are trying to reach is already online. For many people, the only way they’ll come to know Christ and deepen their relationship with him is if they connect with us online or via social media.
Everyone we are trying to reach is already online. For many people, the only way they’ll come to know Christ and deepen their relationship with him is if they connect with us online or via social media.Tweet
We live in a generation in which people are just a click away from hearing the message of Jesus Christ. Which also means they’re a click away from tuning him out. That means there is more for us to do. It means we need to think of ourselves more like a TV studio than a little church in the woods. It means our production of video needs to expand. It means we will continue to invest in technology and tech staff as a budget priority.
At the same time, we’re clear that we need to connect with people relationally because people need that connection now more than ever before. That’s why ministry and missions, small groups and member care continue to be priorities moving forward.
We live in a generation in which people are just a click away from hearing the message of Jesus Christ. Which also means they’re a click away from tuning him out. It means we need to think of ourselves more like a TV studio than a little church in the woods.Tweet
We are clear that we want to reach the next generation and that remains one of our highest priorities. That means we’re going to have to be increasingly creative with our communication. We have to learn from emerging platforms and new patterns of communication.
We are clear that God has given us a heart to help other parishes. Before Covid, Nativity was on the cutting edge of innovation among Catholic parishes. In some ways we were too far ahead as most churches didn’t even understand their need for digital ministry and programs. Now that everything has changed, more and more parishes are open to listening to us and learning from us. They need leadership from a parish that is doing what they’re doing, in the trenches with them. And so we are going to continue to invest in Rebuilt.
We are clear that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as a parish, because it is Christ, it is where we most completely encounter him. For us that means the excellence of our weekend Mass experience remains an overarching priority for us. And for us that is all about music, message and ministers.
Most of all, we are clear about:
Our mission: Love God, Love Others, Make disciples.
Our vision: Make church matter by growing disciples among unchurched Catholics in North Baltimore and influencing churches elsewhere to do the same.
Our strategy: invest and invite when it comes to the unchurched.
Our aim: to be a church people who don’t like church like.
Our message: the life-saving, life changing good news of the Gospel.
We will work towards that day, near or far, when every tribe and tongue, and every nation and people, will worship Jesus Christ as King.
This post was originally part of Church of the Nativity’s annual Stewardship Sunday program. You can view the entire presentation on our YouTube channel: