In a text exchange with a friend and former colleague in ministry, we talked about the encouragement we've found in our churches and how they've responded to the COVID-19 crisis. We also agreed that it's "exhausting to completely overhaul and rewrite everything you're doing." It's true. Nothing we're doing now is normal, or fun. I enjoy watching services on TV in my pajamas, but it's not the gathered church. I've enjoyed sitting on the couch with Carrie and the kids while we sing, but it's not the same as hearing our church praise. I've enjoyed finishing the message by Wednesday, but its' nothing like the moment of expectation while our children's minister finishes the prayer while I'm walking up to the podium.
All of us in ministry could write a list like this. We've learned a lot about who we are, what we're capable of, and what kind of stock our churches are made of. EBC, here's what I've learned about you!
1) You're a resilient bunch - Seriously guys, you're tougher than you think. You've embraced the challenge of trying to figure out how we're going to get through this, and you're digging in your heels to make sure we're doing this as best we can. You've survived countless struggles, economic recessions, trials, even for some a World War. But we've never seen a global pandemic. And your mettle is showing!
2) You're more adaptable than you think - Churches have been forced to do something many haven't in a long time, change. Change is hard. It breaks up the routine and rhythm that we've become accustomed to. And it pushes us, as Queen Elsa says, into the unknown. But you've handled this one well, and you've shown you're more adept at change and more flexible than you thought! Sunday School classes are using Zoom, our prayer meetings have gone virtual and you did the work to set up a Zoom so we can virtually gather together, you've used online giving, you've gotten prayer emails, and you've adjusted to a normal where our lives are interrupted.
3) You're more loving - Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. It's not just romantic, it's koinonia! Because we've been apart for so long (today is our 5th Sunday meeting virtual), we've realized how much we genuinely love one another and long for the fellowship that's been missing since we're not in the same physical place. You're checking in on people. You're praying. You're helping your neighbors. You're sending encouragement. And you're itching to get back to 8305 US Highway 301 North.
4) You're being made more like Christ - We haven't had our physical gatherings. We haven't had fellowship meals or activities or events. We aren't doing programming like we did before. What's been stripped away has shown us what matters most of all: Jesus. And when our eyes are fixed on Him, we're made more like Him. Whatever is chiseled or stripped away from us is the stuff that doesn't matter. We are made for community, and we are made to fellowship embodied. That's why we look forward to getting back together. But this season has shown us that it is by the Word we are made more like Jesus.
5) You've kept your joy - Whether it's picking on me for a wardrobe change during a service (I forgot to wear the same shirt for the two days of filming that week), stopping by to drop off stuff at the office and doing the six foot distance hug, getting annoyed when Zoom puts the picture right up your nose, or you talk about the sweetness of Christian fellowship, COVID-19 hasn't robbed you of your joy. Sure it's annoying. Sure it's frustrating. We're all there. Yes the service feed drops every now and then. But you've kept your joy in the midst of crisis.
Hang in there guys. We'll get through this together. #TeamEBC
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.