(Image: Glean Network)
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced our faith institutions to reimagine how they serve their communities, and has threatened the “pay to pray” business model, with estimates of 20-30% of America’s houses of worship at risk of closing in the next year. At the same time, though, attendance is up, demand for belonging and connection is sky-high, and opportunities to deeply serve our communities are waiting around every corner. So how might we embrace the possibilities of the moment and reimagine how our institutions serve? Taking insights from every domain from higher education to social impact, here are 10 approaches to adapting your institutions and serving your people where they are.
As signs of hope begin to break through the traumatic 14-month COVID-19 nightmare, leaders across every domain are beginning to ask tough questions about what’s next for their businesses, organizations, and communities. In the faith sector - one that was already destabilized after years of disaffiliation and disconnect from younger generations - the tough questions grow tougher with each new report about the impending wave of church closures and shrinking membership.
But if you look a little closer - beyond the catchy headlines - you might find reasons for hope. Since the pandemic began, 46% of young people are reconnecting to religious practice; 24% of Americans have experienced a deepening of their faith, and only 2% a decline in faith. And worship attendance is up as services shifted online and the barriers of entry disappeared.
At Glean Network, we practice a pragmatic optimism - rooted in reality, inspired by the emergent. Looking through that lens, here are 10 suggestions for community transformation that we’ve gleaned from working with hundreds of prophetic, fearless leaders who have transformed their communities over the years, and are in the process of doing so today, as well: