A Reflection on “Thoughtful Conversations: Courageously Discerning What’s Next When ‘Normal’ Isn’t an Option”

BY: The Center for Youth Ministry Training


CYMT’s Innovation Laboratory hosted an online event on May 18 called “Thoughtful Conversations: Courageously Discerning What’s Next When ‘Normal’ Isn’t an Option.” Leaders from churches and non-profits around the country were led to ask deep questions about how the pandemic has impacted people in their communities. We talked about the changes being observed nationwide in people’s engagement, financial giving, volunteering, and what people say they miss most about in-person gatherings. With their specific context in mind, we invited participants to reflect on this big question: How might your church or organization’s mission, or strategic implementation of your mission, have changed during the pandemic? Or how might it need to shift moving forward?

We heard participants articulate the pains and challenges people in their communities have faced since March 2020: loneliness, loss of connections, burnout, grief, exhausted parents, and more. Then we invited them to name how their church or organization has sought to impact people’s daily lives positively and how they can prioritize this more in the future. We talked about how the Holy Spirit has been at work during the pandemic, bringing new people and opportunities that didn’t exist before the world turned upside down. These changes are critical to consider as churches and organizations move into the next season of ministry, whatever that entails for their communities.

Now as leaders courageously discern how to re-open and re-start, they’re equipped with a process to guide their next steps. After reflecting on how churches and organizations go about their mission in the world in light of the pandemic, the Lab invited leaders to continue discernment at the programmatic level using a second resource we created called, “Continuing Discernment with Your Team.” This resource asks, what should we keep doing, let go, or explore in the next season of our ministry?

For folks who didn’t attend the event, the Lab created a resource package including the May 18 event recording, event slides, and access to two resources to use with your community: “Discerning What’s Next: Beginning with Mission” and “Discerning What’s Next: Continuing Discernment with Your Team.” This package is available for download so you can walk your community through this same discernment process as you take your next faithful steps forward together. You can access these resources here.


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