Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the seemingly endless challenge to keep our people safe while worshipping, church leadership teams have been praying, planning, critiquing and adapting.

As we start to settle into a new post-COVID normal, here are a few guiding principles that can help church leaders in making decisions for the future.

1. Kingdom priorities are more important than personal preferences.
All of us have personal desires and ideas about the way things should be. However, as church leaders and members, sometimes we must put aside our preferences and ideas to determine how we can best further the kingdom of God.

I have been in pastoral ministry for over 25 years and have served the same congregation for over 16 years. That said, seldom do big decisions for our ministry go exactly the way I or others think they should go – and that’s a good thing. The best outcomes are the product of people listening to one another and coalescing ideas.

As Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” During your post-COVID decision-making process, listen to one another, but also remind one another that kingdom priorities are more important than personal preferences.

Connecting people to God through worship is always the most important task of the church.

2. Worship is the priority in God’s kingdom.
Connecting people to God through worship is always the most important task of the church.

However, weekly ministry planning often tells a different story. For many congregations, the most important and highest attended church activity of the week — worship — gets the least amount of planning attention.

Years ago, that was the case at the church I currently serve. One of the best things we ever did was to shift our weekly planning and activity to make worship our priority.

Moving beyond COVID, you must ask yourself, “Do the weekly activities of our church demonstrate that worship is our priority?” If so, then praise the Lord and trust Him for growth. If not, then sit down and figure out how to adjust your weekly ministry schedule to make worship the priority.

3. Ministry is about growing people, not organizations.
If leaders allow organizational growth to become their focus, they may not listen to the people because the focus is on the organization more than spiritual formation. Ironically, being overly concerned about organizational growth can cause leaders to stop leading because they are afraid to upset the people and thus upset the organization.

It is imperative that leaders listen to the perspectives and preferences of God’s people while also leading them to make good theologically driven ministry decisions. The organizational aspects of your ministry are important, but they are not as important as the theological aspects of your ministry.

People are the ministry. When God calls us to minister to His people, He calls us to listen and to lead.

As your church continues its post-pandemic planning, talk openly and honestly about these principles as leaders and as a congregation. Doing so can help keep your team and congregation focused and united as you make wise decisions for the future.