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Adapting to the New Normal: 10 Recommendations for Christian Leaders and Congregations Post-COVID



Professor Eileen R. Campbell-Reed has released a summary of her findings based on a three-year long research project she undertook studying how Christian leaders and congregations have adapted post-COVID, to our new societal realities. Her report included input from over 100 pastors and church leaders from close to half of the states and over twenty denominations. In this article, she gives ten recommendations based on her research.


A couple of the recommendations are no new news, at least to me and, I imagine, to most of you: understand things have changed, embrace the hybrid church, and care for loss and grief. However, even with the "Yes, I've heard that before" nature of those recommendations, she does offer some good points that support each of the recommendations and for each recommendation, shares an excellent question for further reflection.


A couple took me by surprise, though. One recommendation, "Listen to women," points out the huge number of women that stepped out of the workforce during the pandemic to address all the issues that were arising in the homefront. At the same time, Dr. Campbell-Reed writes, "Stories from my research point out how churches continue to harbor unfair expectations for parents, especially mothers." Pay close attention to this one, folks, and think about the question she raises following it.


A second recommendation, on its surface, isn't surprising: "Prioritize mental well-being." However, reading further, she raises alarming statistics around the mental health of children and youth, especially female, LGTBQ+ and Black teens and suicide. As Dr. Campbell-Reed reminds us, churches are one of the few intergenerational communities that walks with members "from cradle to grave," as it says. We have a unique opportunity and, with it, a unique responsibility to focus on mental well-being of our children and youth.


I'd be curious to hear your responses to her article. Read it at this link or, if the link doesn't work for you, google the title "Research-based guidelines for leading the church in a new era of ministry," by Eileen R. Campbell-Reed. You can also read her full research at https://eileencampbellreed.org/pandemicpastoring-report-download-2022/.



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