Losing a Year of Our Lives

Sometimes I joke about the stress of a particular situation by saying, “That took a year of my life.” Turns out it’s not a joke.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported last week that life expectancy in the USA dropped by one full year in the first six months of 2020.  

Remember the first six months of 2020?  COVID. Shootings. More COVID. More shootings.  A lot more COVID. The killing of George Floyd and subequent protests in more than 2000 cities in all 50 states. More COVID.

No wonder we lost a year of life expectancy. It was stressful.  We hoarded Clorox wipes, for the love of God.

In my own circle of humans, three people have died in the past week and not one of them reached the average life expectancy of 77.8 years.  One was 59. One was 66.  And one was 74.

We probably all know people living well into their 90s.  This is amazing even though we rarely consider it amazing any more.

The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10

During this pandemic, a common question I’ve heard is “What’s giving you life?”  And a follow-up question is “What’s diminishing your life?”  And because I am a Church Person and I think about these things in an ecclesiastical context, I have to ask:

  • What’s giving your congregation life?
  • What’s diminishing your congregation’s life?

Those are real questions and I’m not even going to suggest possible answers.  There is something in your church that’s invigorating your congregation and there’s something in your church that sucking the life out of your congregation.  We need to get rid of what’s killing our ability to do ministry and lift up what’s expanding our ability to do ministry.

It would be a good thing to ask your leaders these questions – maybe confidentially on individual index cards.  These are the kinds of hard conversations – or joyfilled conversations – that will determine where God allows us to go after this pandemic is truly over.

Image of what diminishes my life (i.e. Closed churches that would still be thriving if they had focused on something besides institutional survival) and something that gives me life (i.e. Organizations like The Bulb in Charlotte that distribute fresh vegetables and fruits to the hungry in Charlotte, NC. Five Charlotte congregations are among the Bulb market sites.)


2 responses to “Losing a Year of Our Lives

  1. I’m going to share your questions with our pastor. For right now, though, I have to say that the continuing monetary giving has given life. The deacon’s fund received so much money in 2020 that we were able to give away thousands of dollars to local agencies who took care of fire victims, the homeless, and the hungry. We are now looking at ways to help those who cannot pay utility bills. Also, our gifted organist comes in every Saturday and records beautiful music that can be played on Sunday, via YouTube, by just pressing a button on the organ. That music feeds my soul every Sunday.


  2. Thank you Jan!
    Wisdom welcomed!


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