20 May Ministry in the Midst of the Storm
As I’m writing this, we are facing an unprecedented storm affecting not just our state or our country but the entire world. While this situation and the changes that it has brought upon us may have been unexpected, none of this has been a surprise to our all-knowing God. And though we may struggle in times like these, eventually we make it out on the other side. The same is true of all storms and troubles that we face. The important thing to focus on is what we can do while we’re getting to the other side.
In Mark 4:35-41 we read about how Jesus calmed a storm. He was in a boat with his disciples crossing to the other side of the lake when a storm came upon them. When they woke Jesus in a panic, Jesus rebuked the wind and waves before asking them why they were afraid. They had lost sight of just who was with them in the boat. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Jesus is still in the boat with us today. Even when we don’t know how things are going to progress, Jesus does, and He will provide for us in His infinite wisdom and power. We need to choose trust over worry and faith over fear as we pray for Him to guide us through turbulent times.
In a time of crisis such as this one, we do what is needed in order to survive. But this can also be a time where we learn, innovate and grow in order to thrive. We might find ourselves with time now to work on projects and goals that we otherwise set aside. Good things can and will come out of this season! When we get to the other side, things may look different and might even end up better than before. Situations like these lead us to get creative in figuring out ways to continue being the church through the storm.
First, we need to recognize the things for which we can be grateful. One of those things for me, personally, is technology. Technology today allows for so many ways to stay connected with our church family. From phone calls and text messages to video chats and online services, technology provides ways for us to continue being the church.
Whether your church has the capability to produce and live stream your services or simply a smartphone to record a video message to post on social media, what’s important is that we get creative and do what we can with what we have in order to continue living out our mission of making disciples.
Communication is key during times of crisis to both encourage and inform people of what’s happening. Use whatever tools are at your disposal to make sure that people feel connected. You can create phone lists and have staff and volunteers reach out to people with personal phone calls. Email and your website are another great way to make resources and information available to people.
There are other free resources that allow our teams to stay connected whether it be volunteers, coworkers or small groups. Using tools like Facebook groups, Slack, Google Hangouts and Zoom, our church’s teams have been able to continue meeting, encouraging one another and keeping each other informed. The key is to be intentional in having staff and leaders in your church use these tools regularly. In fact, during this time of staying home, I’ve heard people say that they feel more connected than ever through receiving regular phone calls and emails from their team and/or group leaders, participating in group video chats and following social media updates!
We also can find ways to continue being a missional church and providing outreach involvement in our communities. Our local
go group coordinators have been working with our local ministry partners to continue providing support during this time. Whether through monetary donations or donations of supplies, we are reaching out to those who work directly with at-risk populations to see what their needs are and how we can help.
Above all else, it’s important to pray during these times. Pray for our congregations, those directly affected, those in leadership positions and for the Holy Spirit to move. While it may seem like the world is at a standstill during a crisis, God is not. He can use these times to draw people to Himself in ways that we can’t see. It’s our job to be ready to meet people where they’re at and help them grow as a follower of Christ. Though the methods may need to change, our message never will.