Over the last several weeks, I have been in this season of Summer Conversations, where I get the opportunity to connect with pastors to hear about their wellness and wellbeing, celebrate their joys of God’s call, and bear the concerns they are experiencing in ministry; this is one of a few seasons that highlight my ministry as a Conference Superintendent. It was the other day, as a pastor was sharing, they began to quote from Star Trek and it captured my attention. The quote was, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”
Now, I have never watched Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other galactic-type movie, but this quote has resonated with me over the last several days and led me to remember Philippians 2:3-5 which reads, “In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too (ERV).” In its context, these verses from Philippians 2:1-11 detail what it means to live as a faithful Christ-follower and how we are called to truly imitate a Christ-likeness. So, it begs the question regarding our motives for ministry, especially during this global pandemic.
As many of our congregations have re-engaged in-person worship experiences over the last few weeks, I wonder if we are considering the “needs of the many?” I am hearing there is excitement to actually be back in the buildings to see masked faces, but I am also hearing that “it is just not the same.” I know many of our pastors are experiencing the public pressures for whether or not to continue with in-person experiences during this time, as there has been a recent resurgence in positive COVID-19 cases across Indiana. Through my many texts, calls, and emails, here is what I would like to offer; as your congregation prayerfully considers the safety of all, is it worth the compromise of one person for the sake of the preferences of a few?
Since we were thrust into this global pandemic over eighteen weeks ago, we are still called to proclaim the Good News, even when it is contrary to public opinion. One of our simple rules, as Methodists, is to DO NO HARM. If congregations believe, after prayerful consideration, that harm will be done to continue in-person worship …OR harm is being done to pastors and ministry teams (via burnout or overtasking) for trying to produce several worship experiences with excellence…DO NO HARM and remain virtual for an indefinite period!
During this time, we cannot afford to lead from our personal agendas; we must be about God’s agenda, even virtually. I believe we are experiencing a time where the Good News of Jesus Christ is being spread around the world for many to hear, and we must be about the business of Jesus Christ, even virtually, so that many may come to know this love and draw into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”
In Service and On Mission,
Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright
Conference Superintendent serving West District