The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and growing pandemic fatigue is challenging churches and disconnecting church members, according to author Peter Roennfeldt. “There are real tensions,” he explains. “Some insist that in-person worship in the church building is what church is about, and that it must be open to all; while others wish to take a more considered approach. Even after a year-end break, many pastors and local leaders are exhausted from juggling the many conflicting interests and tensions.”
Across the past two years, Dr Roennfeldt has participated in numerous Zoom calls and conferences with mission agencies and denominational entities, as well as with local churches and teams of pastors, listening to their experiences and encouraging churches to continue to adapt to the restrictions and realities of the pandemic. With this background, he says that his new book—When Your Church Goes Home—is even more relevant now than when first released as a free ebook in November last year, offering alternative ways for churches to continue to meet and minister, amid the new wave of the pandemic.
“In this book, I survey the growing interest in ‘households of faith,’ the biblical frames for these churches, and stories of members and pastors fostering these types of churches,” Dr Roennfeldt explains. “It is a very practical, easy-to-read look at the why, how, where, what and when of churches at home.”
This is the third book Dr Roennfeldt has published in response to the challenges of the pandemic to church-as-usual. First was If Your Church is Closed . . . Be the Church, which focused on the basic functions of the church amid the early lockdowns and has been distributed around the world as a free ebook. Last year, Your Church Has Changed addressed the longer-term disruptions and affects of the pandemic for re-defining church and mission.
Now Dr Roennfeldt sees three factors that are being recognised in an increasing number of church communities. “We cannot afford to return to church as it was,” he says. “We must have multiple in-person gatherings in COVID-safe environments for the diverse expectations and needs of church members, and we need smaller relational churches connected to our immediate neighbourhoods.”
To get it out as quickly as possible in support of church leaders and some who had already begun “households of faith,” When Your Church Goes Home was launched initially as an ebook. “We were happy for pastors and leaders to share it with their teams and members, and that can be done with ease and at no cost electronically,” says Dr Roennfeldt. The book is also available for download from www.following-jesus.com.
But plans are also in place for a printed edition of When Your Church Goes Home. “Not all use electronic devices for reading, and many find it much easier to reflect on ideas and plan while reading a printed book,” he says. “Pastors and members, together with conference and mission leaders, have indicated that they would use a print edition to inspire and train teams for multiplying ‘households of faith.’”