Marking a Yr of Pandemic Service: What I've Realized

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The list of skills ministry heads learned during the global pandemic is incredibly long. We went through a year of sadness and joy, broadcasting podcasts and showing off the car. Among many things we've learned, one item tops the list as the news gives us hope that the end of the pandemic is within our grasp: Your service purpose is always a solid foundation on which to build.

With the intention of staying grounded

During the first few months of the pandemic, I began to think of the pandemic service as a seesaw that swayed between online and pooled service. Digital tools that made the pivot point possible became the platform or board of the swing. The basis on which everything is built is the immutable purpose of the service, or the "why".

When our staff met last May to imagine the upcoming program year, we remembered our stated mission: "Based on the church's baptismal promises, we cultivate and lead faithful Christians who know, love and serve God and their neighbor." When everything changed, our purpose stayed the same.

Our purpose is also our calling – the work God calls us to do. The theologian Frederick Buechner said: "Vocation is the place where our deep joy meets the deep need of the world." Many have noticed that the pandemic has sparked a collective search for meaning in the midst of adversity. Faith-building ministries must be focused on our calling and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those desperate for hope.

Questions for reflection

Covid-19 was an opportunity to focus on what matters most: connecting with God and with one another. As we think about the past year and look forward to the year ahead, here are the purposeful questions I ask:

KNOWS: How does our ministry invite people to notice God's love and presence in our lives and in the world here and now? What do we have to let go of in order to concentrate on the essentials? The pandemic has taught us how to create a sacred space to encounter God both online and outside the church building.

LOVE: How do we invite individuals and communities to reflect on how we can love God and our neighbors as we live out our beliefs in our lives? The past year has shown that our lives and wellbeing are interrelated.

SERVE: How do we equip people of all ages to use their gifts to create God's vision for this world? In the past year, we have all acquired new skills that will enable us to create a new and redesigned ministry in our churches and communities.

On her “Dare to Lead” podcast, Brené Brown spoke to psychologist Susan David about the ongoing psychological challenges people of all ages will face when we come out of the pandemic. Realizing that people's need for hope and wellbeing lasts much longer than I thought affects my planning for fall. The important lessons I've learned to stay focused are my priority.

As we pause to reflect on the insights of the ministry over the past year, I pray for faith formation leaders that innovative ministry will grow out of need and change and reach those who are hungry for purpose and hope. May God's purpose be a blessing and a guide in your ministry.

Photo by Javier Sanchez Mingorance on Scopio.

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