Lots of church leaders are considering a tough question: What do you think is going to happen after the pandemic?

No one knows for certain how the challenges and opportunities of the pandemic will impact the future of congregations.

Yet the Rev. Dr. Charles “Chip” Hardwick, interim executive of the Synod of the Covenant, took time to reflect about “The post-pandemic church in the ‘Great Virtuality’” in a piece published online July 13, 2021 by The Presbyterian Outlook.

Hardwick provides a brief historical context to the situation based on “The Great Emergence” by the late Phyllis Tickle then highlights three important dynamics leading to the current transition facing churches:

  • The centrality of social media as a force shaping the way most Americans interact.
  • The wide availability of broadband Internet access means that more of our life is spent online every day.
  • The sudden inability to interact face-to-face when the pandemic began provoking momentous disruption in life.

“These changes lead me to coin the “Great Virtuality” as the next season for the church (and society),” Hardwick writes. “More of our ministries will likely be online than those who just “want everything to go back to normal” might hope.”

He points to the work of Sherry Turkle, author of “Alone Together,” for some ideas about how the introduction of technology impacts things then contends that digital interactions are here to stay, bringing both opportunities and challenges along with lots of questions to ponder.

REMEMBER: All congregations within the Presbytery of Lake Michigan receive an online subscription to The Presbyterian Outlook. Access back issues archived in the Presbytery Records and monitor the email address used to access that Google drive space for future copies of the magazine to arrive.