“Forget Going Back to the Office—People Are Just Quitting Instead” was posted a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal (14 June 2021). It’s probably my wiring (and focus) to ask, “what will the church do with this?
My expectation? Nothing.
A few days ago, Rey De Armes was with Jeff Reed on The Church Digital Podcast. Rey was the Digital Pastor for Christ Fellowship Miami. Pre-COVID, he was already feeling the nudge of God to (re-)pursue his joy of medicine. He’s out of ministry…or is he?
While Rey’s journey back to medicine started pre-COVID, there are a lot of pastors, church staff, and everyday Christians who will be moving on in the next few months (nope, not a statement about myself). There is a strong expectation that the next year will see a huge exit from the churches, not just the laypeople (though that is estimated to be 30%). It is expected that many staff and other leaders will be leaving, too.
Many are flat-out burned out. Others look back at COVID, and realize what their church had become, bound. Others realize that COVID has freed them of their (and perhaps even their denomination’s) expectations and even understanding of what it means to lead the church…and, even more positively, what it means to be the church.
The Industrial Revolution drew people into the cities pursuing a better life. The post-COVID revolution may send many people away from the cities. It used to be that the knowledge workers (including banks, lawyers, clergy, educators) would collect in particular places. Technology frees them (to some degree) from that.
10 years ago, I was the exception. My company decided that they wanted to keep me, even though I was moving away. We arranged a way for me to do remote work. I would still commute 2 days a week (approximately), but for manufacturing this was huge.
Fast forward to today, and what was revolutionary 10 years ago is now common. In fact, one of my sales contacts recently moved hundreds of miles away. She kept her job. She prefers the place that isn’t insanely expensive. Whole industries will be changing.
Will the people in the WSJ article be the norm? Probably not. Does a nearly double change reflect a new reality? Yes. Are we watching wages increase in leaps? Yes. Do we know exactly how things will change? No.
Many people are waiting to see how things will change. This may be the fatal mistake. My take is that things will be fluid for a number of years. How will organizations respond in a few years? Will they even be around to respond in a few years? Doing nothing is not a plan, or at least not a plan for success.
What does this have to do with Rey? Well, one of the big changes I see is that the church really needs to equip its people to be the ministers.
We clergy are to equip non-clergy folks to do the work of the ministry. Discipleship is definitely part of this. Discipleship is to be forming others to form others to be more like Jesus in love and mission. We talk a lot about love and holiness in regard to “Christ-like-ness”. We seem to skip the mission part.
We (the church and its clergy) are at a crossroads. We can hunker down behind the 4 walls that will fall down around our ears, or we move beyond the four walls and embrace the “Wild Goose” of the Holy Spirit and move forward into the world.