At the end of each year, many leadership and cultural insight gurus will list what to expect during the next year. They will analyze different areas of culture that they believe will be trending to prepare companies, organizations, and even churches for the coming year.
As we all know, these lists have become entirely null and void. The year 2020 has turned out to be nothing as we expected it to be!
There is no question that culture across the world, particularly in America, has completely shifted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. One thing has become abundantly clear — things aren't going back to normal anytime soon. Some shifts that have occurred may become more permanent than not moving forward.
Why do these shifts matter? Why not just wait for our workplaces, public spaces, and churches to go back to normal? Unfortunately, waiting out the storm is not an option when these cultural shifts begin to affect your church and the people who attend it.
In this article, we will explore the shifts in culture that are taking place and why these shifts matter.
By far, one of the most noticeable shifts in our culture since the pandemic is the dramatic rise in e-commerce. As physical stores have been shut down or otherwise restricted on capacity and hours of operation, e-commerce has thrived. Here are some statistics just to give you an idea of the shift:
U.S. retailers' online year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth is up 68% as of mid-April
In the U.S. and Canada, there is 146% growth in all online retail orders
Experts predict that retail e-commerce sales will reach $4.13 trillion in 2020
E-commerce has already been a popular trend, but the closures of most in-person retail stores made the popularity of shopping online increase even more. Besides, when you're stuck at home with nothing to do, it is all too easy to browse on Amazon and buy the latest trinket you don't need!
Even as we continue towards the reopening of many states, the fact remains that some people will still be hesitant to shop in physical stores anyway. A recent study showed that 24% of consumers said they wouldn't feel comfortable shopping in a mall for more than six months. The overall uneasiness of people to want to shop in person, combined with the convenience of buying online, truly sets up e-commerce to continue to thrive and increase in popularity.
How does this shift affect the church? Well, look at it this way. If someone can get the same product, with a similar experience, and without leaving their homes, they will probably opt for the online option. The same goes for the church. If your attendees can experience church from the comfort of their home, they may opt to choose church online over attending the physical building. Even as churches countrywide are beginning to reopen, some may still continue joining online for a time.
While there are many other factors in play here, the fact remains that people enjoy the convenience, which may motivate them to attend church, whether online or in-person. This is a cultural shift we must not shrink back from, but it is one that we can embrace and leverage to meet people exactly where they are.
Unless you're a medical professional, a grocery store employee, or another essential worker, odds are that you are in one of two areas: the world of unemployment or the world of remote working. Tragically, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on thousands of lives, as many have faced the realities of losing their jobs. Luckily though, many people have been fortunate enough to continue working but in a very different way.
Working remotely has become a practice that many companies worldwide have implemented as physical workspaces have been closed. Many companies made these drastic shifts overnight as they have been forced to change from a hands-on group method to independent entities scattered everywhere.
You will discover that people either hate working remotely or they love it. Regardless of the consensus, many employers are discovering the benefits of having an entirely remote team, and some are on the path to making a permanent shift to teleworking. The benefits include money saved by eliminating commercial rental costs, employee productivity increase, a better life-work balance, and many others.
The current age of technology is what allows telework to be a possibility, and companies have dove headlong into the reality that the pros far outweigh the cons.
While some jobs simply cannot be sustainable without a physical office, many jobs can be modified to be operated from home. This shift is an important one for churches to embrace and look to how our teams and staff operate every week.
Your church needs to ask some hard questions regarding how meetings operate, what work can be done out of office, and maybe even the pros and cons of maintaining a physical space in general.
With the closures of schools and workplaces alike, families are now together more than ever due to the pandemic. While for the remote- working mom or dad, it can be a brand new challenge, the family unit has had an opportunity to be strengthened more than ever.
America is a primarily individualistic country where there can be a primary focus on oneself instead of the community. During the pandemic, we have seen a heartwarming display of a community bond, even amidst the realities of division.
Families have spent far more time together, neighbors are having socially distanced sidewalk concerts, and many are far less distracted by the things that vie for our attention daily.
This move towards family and community has been a beautiful and needed shift in our world. This time of things literally being stripped away from us has made room for us to focus on what truly matters in this life. Now that is a shift we pray continues for years and years to come!
Jimmy Fallon is known for his hysterical late-night talk show antics. When the pandemic hit and quarantine began, your Average Joe wasn't the only one who started working from home.
Jimmy Fallon and many of the other noteworthy talk show hosts, went from a highly produced show shot in a studio to a personal home video style show.
What we've seen throughout quarantine is people living their authentic lives. Work and family are no longer 2 separate entities that dare not ever intertwine. Instead, we've seen viral videos of toddlers interrupting conference calls, joking husbands walking in on Zoom meetings, and more transparency.
This pandemic has allowed people's real identities to come forth because, let's face it, what else have we had to lose? Millions of us were cooped up with nowhere to go, leaving very little room for us to showcase a facade.
This shift in culture is a huge one and is one that will hopefully continue beyond the pandemic. Authenticity — particularly in the church — should be amongst one of our highest values. Why? Because real people don't relate to perfection. They resonate more with raw, unfiltered, unedited life. They crave authenticity. The church can join in on the trend of authenticity and continue in it for the long run.
The shifts that occur in our world’s culture matter because when the church understands these changes and uses them as motivation, they will have a much greater impact. They will be attuned to the needs of people, the shifts in technology, and they will know the best way to speak into the lives of the community around them.
The church that can shift will understand what programs or systems need to end and what needs to begin. (If you haven't read it yet, we would recommend the book Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud.)
There are many programs and systems that simply need to end and be replaced with new and better systems. This doesn’t negate the fact that they served their purpose, it just points to the necessity of adjusting to what the culture is doing. In layman’s terms, the days of the cassette and CD players are long gone — we don't want to be the church handing out CDs when the trend is over!
There may be a few things your church needs to end forever. At the same time, there are areas of your church that may need to start or expand because “the trend is your friend” as they say in the stock market. But in this case, we are all about riding the trend to reach more people with the message that never changes — the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As our world's situation continues to change daily, there will undoubtedly be more and more shifts in our culture that will affect us all. We must not shy away from these trends but rather recognize them, embrace them, and see how they can positively impact our church communities and our world!
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