The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation
By Thom S. Rainer, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2020.
Book Review by
Joanne Cortes – associate pastor at Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Beltsville, Maryland, United States.
COVID-19 has impacted practically every church around the world. In this book, The Post-Quarantine Church, Thom Rainer looks at what our church may look like after the pandemic. He offers six urgent challenges and opportunities that may help a church to determine the kind of future it will have.
The first challenge Rainer suggests is that the church should gather differently and better, find innovative ways to use the church facility, and be ready to think of creative ways to reach people currently not being reached (11).
The second challenge involves seizing the opportunity to reach the digital world by designing the most effective social media plan for the church right now. Beware of jeopardizing the church by being digitally busy while having no effectiveness. It is better to simplify the content being shared (25).
The third challenge is to reconnect with the neighborhood. Be a church in and for the community by having a clear purpose and mission and by being a positive influence on those in the vicinity (39).
The fourth challenge is to pray. Take prayer to a powerful, new level by praying regularly and asking members, as well as the community, to join in this challenge. Prayer can happen in an empty church building, via technology, basically anywhere (55).
The fifth challenge reminds churches that after the quarantine, they can practically begin with a “new slate” and serve their communities in ways never done before. This would be a good time to partner with new organizations and groups (69).
The sixth challenge involves encouraging churches to consider making lasting changes that will make a difference. Think strategically and reevaluate ministry objectives, committee budgets, job descriptions, and other aspects of the organization to position the church for success after the quarantine (85).
The final chapter in this book states that challenges faced by the church can also be opportunities. The author lists nine key changes for the post-quarantine church that also reinforce the six challenges provided earlier:
- Simplicity will be vitally important.
- Only outwardly focused churches will survive.
- Worship-service gatherings will be smaller.
- “Multi” will multiply.
- Staff and leadership realignment will focus more on digital proficiency.
- “Stragglers” will become a subject of outreach and focus.
- Digital worship services will be newly proposed.
- Ministry training will change dramatically.
- Pastors will leave their lead positions for second-chair roles.
Rainer concludes by articulating that “the post-quarantine era may prove to be one of the most challenging seasons for churches and their leaders. The opportunity to lead change is likely greater than at any other point in our lifetimes” (110). The pandemic has changed the world and the way we are used to doing church, yet there is a great opportunity in that we are practically given a blank slate—an opportunity to rethink, re-create, and revamp church.
I recommend this easy-to-read book to those who may be unsure about whether the church is being truly effective in the mission during these uncertain times, those who need help in rethinking what church should look like after quarantine, those whose church may be struggling because of COVID-19, and those who are ready to begin to think outside of what is normal. As we enter this new “normal,” we cannot forget that Jesus promises that no matter what we go through, even if it be a pandemic, He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:19, 20).