Are You In Survival Mode?



Lots of folks have been questioning what church life and ministry should look like post-Covid. To do that, I think it would first be best to understand where you’ve been.


And by “where you’ve been”, I mean where your organization has been both circumstantially and emotionally. For many churches, Covid threw them into survival mode. Survival mode happens when your resources suddenly shrink or outside forces threaten your existence. Either way, you’re thrust into an unknown world where typical operational practices don’t work or aren’t accessible. You know what gets thrown aside when you’re in survival mode? Five-year plans. Heck, for that matter, two-year plans. The immediate goal is to survive this day…or days. You’re in the moment. A drowning person isn’t thinking about how to get to shore—they’re only focused on keeping their head above the water. But once that’s achieved, then getting to the shoreline is the next goal. Reaching the shoreline takes precedent over vacation planning, saving money for a house, contemplating career changes, or whatever. Once on the shore, the next strategic steps begin to likewise evolve, and on and on it goes. In other words, your current circumstances help shape how you think about your organization’s future. And as your circumstances change, your goals and strategies will as well. For one thing, you can slowly begin to look further into the future. So what will church life look like post-Covid? I’m not sure we at Elemental Churches or anyone else honestly has the ultimate answer, other than everyone knows they’ve got to seriously reevaluate how they define community and their digital presence. And we’ve got to think past counting clicks and more about how we manage engagement. Remember: our job is to build disciples. That means we have to honestly define what that is, how we approach it in the internet age, and how to measure our effectiveness. One thing for sure: let’s measure engagement, not clicks. All that to say: we need to carve out real time to think about our future and strategically plan toward it…all in the context of discerning God’s heart. My observation is that too many churches seem to perpetually be in survival mode emotionally, whether that’s actually the physical case or not. I get it. The weekly challenge of Sunday services and the ongoing pastoral care needs can feel overwhelming. But leaders must carve out time to think about future organizational effectiveness…or fruitfulness as Jesus put it. Are you still in survival mode? Then try to keep you head above the water. And trust Jesus. But are you functioning in survival mode emotionally…and yet it’s not really about survival, but just the seasonal up-and-down rigors of ministry? Then this is a planning systems question and you’ve got to carve out time to dream and pursue God. Stop thinking like a survivalist. And instead, think like a steward of Kingdom resources and how to invest them for the future. Dave Workman | Elemental Churches