A month into our new program year and still needing to be online, I am very thankful for the commitment of many in our church to work with our children, youth, and adults. We have not waited for a return to what we did when we gathered together. Instead, we adapted to this new reality so that we may nurture the faith of all ages and help people live through this time. I’m particularly thankful for Stephanie Hare’s leadership. She helped me and Tami and our Faith Formation Commission to review our curriculum, identify some gaps, and develop the 100 Things Every Christian Should Know. Her work, our online classes, and the people who are working with our various age groups are a testimony to our church’s commitment to form people in faith, regardless of the circumstances in the larger world. For that commitment, thank you!
Developing online ministry has created new opportunities to connect with people near and far. It has raised a number of important questions, not the least of which is “who is part of our church now?” Is it just the people who come to the church building, even though that isn’t happening right now? Is it the people of our town or surrounding community? Or, is it everyone who joins us with us in worship—the college student away at school, the extended family member who can’t find a local church in their area, the curious person who comes across our Facebook ad and joins us? I think the pandemic has expanded our connections, and I, for one, want to nurture our relationship to people wherever they are. Their presence among us is a reminder that we cannot settle for how things are or think that one day we will simply go back to the way things were. We must always seek to build new ministry and connections. These connections invite us to expand our thinking and vision of our church so that it is a gift to whoever is among us, wherever they are.
These questions, these people, this tumultuous time all impel us to move forward in faith. We move forward, first of all, to plan and organize ministry in this uncertain time. We cannot wait for things to return to normal before we discern the next ways to share God’s good news of new life in Jesus Christ. Opportunities are present and emerging now. Opportunities like a Mental Health & Wellness Ministry to normalize mental health needs and issues as a part of who we are and how we walk with people in the midst of their struggles. Opportunities like becoming an intentional Hunger Action Congregation that grows ever-more aware of the issues contributing to hunger in our community, nation and world and how we can respond. These new opportunities, added to others like Sunday School and Pantry, help us move forward in faith, believing that God has a purpose for our church and is leading us into it.
To that end, I ask that you prayerfully consider how you will be a part of the future of our ministry with your faith, your time, and your finances. We do not simply support ministry. We are doing ministry together by the investment of ourselves in the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ and living it through what we offer of ourselves. In this season of stewardship, what is God calling you to give so that our ministry may be strong and vibrant? Our ministry isn’t seeking to hunker down, but to grow. We ask that your giving do the same – grow to meet the needs and opportunities before us. It may seem counter-intuitive in this season to ask for your giving this way, but the need and the opportunity to be God’s church, to be grounded in gratitude and move forward in faith, couldn’t be more exciting!
In the coming weeks, you will receive more information about our stewardship campaign, Neighbors Together, Forward in Faith. For now, please pray for our ministry, that it may be what God intends and that together we follow God’s Spirit into God’s future for us.