Happy Monday as we enter Day 120 of these days of pandemic/quarantine/mask-wearing or not-mask-wearing. By now – after multiple months of adapting, it occurs to many of us in the Church that we need to take further action or refrain from taking further action. This is our new normal until there is a vaccine.
What are the good ideas and what are the not-so-good ideas for these days?
- Having a Long Term Strategic Planning Retreat for Leaders. We don’t know what to expect in August 2020 much less three years from now. (Please tell me you aren’t considering a ten year strategic plan for your congregation anytime soon – or ever.)
- Shaming People for Not “Going Back” to Church (i.e. in the Church Building.) Some will be able to return and some won’t. It’s okay. God knows who is medically vulnerable.
- Ignoring What’s Going On in the World (a.k.a. tomorrow’s blog post) Please don’t say that it’s “too political” or “too depressing” to address COVID, George Floyd, poverty, unemployment, school closings. Exhibit A: Jesus who bummed out the self-righteous and was executed for sedition.
- Auditing Your Church’s Tech Needs. What would make virtual ministry easier for your congregation? Teaching people Zoom? An Apple TV? New microphones? There are grants out there for tech needs. Check denominational resources for grants.
- Working with a Tech Mentor. Maybe you definitely do not need an Apple TV or new mikes, but you need updated laptops for your staff. Talk with other congregations to connect with someone who might give you honest advice and help hook you up.
- Re-Consider Church Staffing. Does the church need a high school student who can help with tech needs? This could be a great internship for the right person. Does the church need to re-train pastoral care givers for more phone and computer work? (Let’s practice praying on the phone, people.) Do we need a different kind of Pastor, Educator, Office Manager, Finance Person? I don’t say this to freak out current staff members who need/want to stay in their positions. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks if we are willing.
- Celebrate the Advantages of Online Worship, Online Social Times, Online Bible Studies, Online Meetings. Yes, they can be exhausting but they can also :
- Include those who’ve never been included before because of age, home responsibilities, weather, lack of transportation, illness.
- Offer connections to neighbors of other faiths or no faith who are interested in your Anti-Racism book study or your Bible study on Revelation.
- Point out the inequities in terms of digital access and move us to expand our mission priorities to address this.
- Inspire us. I watched a Sunday morning worship service yesterday that included children’s art for the pastoral prayer and a child’s voice praying The Lord’s Prayer. My heart is still full.
It’s a great time to be the Church. And it’s also an exhausting time to be the Church because adaptation is labor-intensive.
And it’s summer. Be gentle with yourselves.
We don’t have to be perfect in these transitions. We’ve never done this before. But the God I believe in offers grace beyond grace for every anxious one of us.
Image by Marc Schultz of Iglesia Pentecostal Dios Proveera Church in Schenectady, NY