I recently often hear many church staff put forward suggestions on reform, and they even set a reforming framework because the original church operation mode is no longer suitable for present challenges.
Here I offer four reform suggestions for the church in the post-pandemic era.
The first aspect of the reform suggestion is that the positioning of a pastor’s service should be clarified and the supervision of pastors be reinforced. Not only should their sermons meet certain criteria, but also should their theological degrees and personal qualities. Originally, being a pastor only required the person to be loyal and wise, but now the requirements for applying to be a pastor focuses on his or her efficiency and ability.
The second main reform suggestion is that the economic needs of pastors should be attended to. Special attention should be paid to poor pastors and pastors who have more expenses in their families. Perhaps in the future, the income of pastors should not only come from fellowships, but also from the supplies of local major churches; as such, their financial power could be enriched and stabilized to a certain extent.
The third suggestion is about layoffs. Practically, a church does not need people who occupy positions for nothing, let alone people who occupy resources but with inadequate abilities. So this aspect of reform is mainly aimed at the professional ability of the pastor. The whole pastoral care they provide should be assessed. If it reaches the standard, the church will provide them with incentives accordingly. If the service fails to meet the standard, the pastor will face the possibility of layoff.
The fourth suggestion is that the church should set up different operational departments instead of having only one person leading all of them. There should be more than ten serving staff in charge of various areas. The suggested departments are the teaching department, Sunday school department, Bible study department, missionary department, the consultation department, prayer department, etc. Assign each staff to work in different departments, strictly assess the gifts and abilities of the pastors, and use their strengths accordingly. Of course, after being assigned to different departments, the pastor should also assist the work of various departments. Instead of being busy in one department, all departments should contact each other to form a powerful team.
The fifth suggestion is to pay attention to the calling of full-time pastors. Sometimes, the pastor needs to know his own calling, his own vision, and whether he is in the calling of full-time service or part-time service. This is more conducive to the pastor's strengths, enabling him/her to steadily progress in his/her career, and preventing him from leaving the service position and pastoral ministry.
The church needs to be updated. The older generation needs to keep pace with the ideology of the present-day youth, and the young need to learn from their elders with humility.
The renewal of a church is not only the renewal of personnel but also the renewal of the church model and influence. Sooner or later, the older generation will leave, and what will be left is the young people who will rise up and shoulder the responsibility and mission. It is necessary for them to have new visions and burdens, spiritual insights, and understand that the development of a church mainly lies in the deployment of personnel, the use of resources, the follow-up of work, the supply of workers, and the effectiveness of pastoral care.
In the past, the development and progress of the church conformed to the past era. The original pastors had not experienced systematic theological training and attainments, but they had the ability, authority, and the heart of loving the Lord, so the effect of their work was particularly obvious. Nowadays, the pastor is updated in knowledge but is greatly weakened inability. Now, we need not only enough knowledge but also the practice and application of spiritual ability. Sometimes a pastor is incapable of preaching and praying, which is the weakness and shortcoming of a pastor in spiritual life. Because knowledge cannot replace spiritual life and good spirituality in many cases, the renewal of the pastor at present is the renewal of life, service, preaching, and prayer.
Another more important aspect of the renewal of the church is the cultural mission. To this aspect, a pastor should approach the world to understand its needs. The pastor can only understand the needs of believers if he or she remains in the church circle. Therefore, only when the pastor sees the needs of the society and participates in public welfare care and voluntary work can he make sermons more practical, down to the earth and life-oriented. The deficiency is that today's pastors are busy with the work of the church and have no time to observe and think about society. So go to factories, go to different job sites or occasions, and understand people's pursuits and ideas, as well as the trend of social development. Most of the time, the pastor's understanding of the world is only through the media and the Internet, and there are few practical understandings, experiences, and discoveries, which need to be updated.
Therefore, the reform and renewal of the church are necessary especially in this special era when we are faced with the severe test of situations. We also have to bear in mind that disciples need training within a church and the gospel needs to be preached outside a church.
- Translated by Charlie Li