In this time of uncertainty and confusion, I am certain about at least one thing; I am absolutely sure that the world around us is in desperate need of the hope found in the promise of Jesus Christ. While we struggle with whether to cancel worship, or rely on live streaming capabilities, or make Sunday service available with a record/link/replay option, or email sermons and worship materials to households – the mission of the church and the need for re-presenting Jesus grows deeper and deeper every moment. And so, too, the opportunities to BE the Church!
Those things are important, but in addition to sorting out what to do about Sunday’s worship, I invite you to take the opportunity to look for ways to BE the church, no matter the size of your congregation. Consider the many different ways to connect with people−If there is not going to be worship (or even if there is), what could it look like to identify as many callers as you would need to call the entire congregation (visitors and all) “on behalf of Pastor ( ), and the church” to be in prayer and to offer the assurance of the peace that passes all our understanding in Christ? How many volunteers would it take to each make 10 calls on Sunday to connect, for as many Sundays as it takes, to create conduits of care and concern in these uncertain times where the necessary “social distancing” threatens to distract and move people further away from the solid Rock of our faith? How simple could it be to put a 3-5 point calling plan in the hands of a group of volunteers with points of hope and faith to share and a prayer to pray?
It’s just one idea, but the need and opportunities are endless in this situation that has been laid inescapably before us. This is a time when we are called to rise above the confusion to become purveyors of hope, and focused on the cause of Christ. I confess I am tempted to spend this time discussing the details of the epidemiology of the virus – but now is the time to BE and become the Church in stronger ways than we have ever been. Let us not be distracted or deterred. And if you have not already seen them, I encourage you to see the divine invitations to step into these moments with the strength of the Holy Spirit to connect, re-connect, and make a difference for the Kingdom in ways you have not done or even imagined before. And please know that your Conference Directors, Superintendents, and I are eager to hear from you about your resourcing needs and glory-sightings as we step into these times together.
This one thing I know, my hope, our hope, the hope of the world is built on nothing less than Jesus – our Rock and our Redeemer. May the peace of God rest upon you and go with you in these days of ministry ahead.
Grace and peace,
Larry K. Whitehead,
Executive Assistant to the Bishop/Director of Connectional Ministries
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church