We’re three (or four depending on where you live) weeks into quarantine. For most of us, this Sunday will mark our 4th Sunday where we went totally online. We have all been learning how to do ministry differently. However, I’ve noticed that many of us have been saying some things on our websites and on our videos. Things like:
- We really miss you
- We’re so sad we don’t get to be with you
- We can’t wait until we’re all back together again
As we move into week four (or five depending on where you live), can we all agree to stop saying these things?
Okay, before you get mad, I need to explain where I’m coming from. I actually had this conversation with some friends today just to make sure I wasn’t alone in this (and to make sure that I wasn’t just being a jerk). My friends confirmed that I wasn’t alone. So let me explain.
I think it’s okay to be sad. I think it’s perfectly okay to miss all the high-fives and hugs. It’s more than okay to long for face to face (not through a screen) community. I’m pretty sure that we’re all feeling the same things (except for our extreme introverts). It’s also not a really positive time right now. People are getting sick. People are dying. People are losing their jobs. It’s kinda scary right now.
However, I personally feel like the “we miss you, we’re sad, we can’t wait until someday” shtick is getting old. Here’s why:
- The church is experiencing innovation on a massive scale. Most churches (young churches, old churches, small churches, and big churches) are morphing into something new, breaking into new models and building new platforms to connect with people and engage the community. Maybe this isn’t as big as how the invention of the printing press changed everything, but it’s big in the same way. I’m convinced that 500 years from now, how the church evolved during the 2020 Pandemic will be a fascinating story told in the history books. What an exciting time to be on the front lines of ministry.
- People need hope right now and no one deals out hope like the church. People who have never wanted anything to do with the church are open to what the church might offer in their time of need. This is a moment when the church really can shine, and how the church leads at this moment might change everything for your community.
- The church is becoming personal again. I know of so many churches that are printing their membership rosters and calling everyone. Church staff are empowering small group leaders and ministry leaders to connect with their people regularly through phone calls, texting groups, and zoom calls. Right now the church is becoming so much more than the Sunday morning routine. The church is becoming a more regular part of people’s lives, which is so exciting.
- Things probably aren’t going back to the way things were anytime soon. In the best-case scenario, the quarantine is going to end in early May. However, I’m not convinced that gatherings of more than 50 will be permitted. And even when they are, how quickly do you think that everyone’s going to want to gather into a crowded auditorium? How quickly are parents going to want their kids in a germ-infested nursery room? I think this is going to take longer than we think.
Empathy is the word here. People are still wrestling with the challenges of quarantine life. It’s okay to recognize that. Life has become remarkable difficult for many. It’s good to acknowledge where people are at. However, it’s an amazing time to be leading in the local church. Rather than lead out with the sadness and negativity, let’s decide to lead with hope and excitement of who the church gets to be in this remarkable time in history!