This is one of those times when it is hard to know what to write. There is so much going on and everything is changing so fast. What do you say? I almost didn’t write anything because there is lots of other stuff to focus on and things aren’t normal, but I wanted to write this because I don’t say it enough and because maybe you need to hear it.
You can do this church. You can get through this. You can get through this in a way that cares for people, serves your community, and points people towards the hope, love, peace, and everything else that is found in Jesus. You can do this. I believe that even as I type it. If I didn’t believe that I don’t think I would have anything to write this week.
How do I know you can do this? Because I have watched you do it. I have seen posts and heard stories and even been on the end of the church responding in a God honouring way, so I know you can do this. I want to encourage you to keep going. Keep serving. Keep checking up on people. Keep loving in real and tangible ways, and keep pointing towards Jesus.
As we respond to what is going on around us, can I ask us to keep some things in mind? I hope this is reminding and not finger shaking, but we need reminding every now and then. Some of these reminders will serve us long after we get through this season because we need to keep loving, serving, caring, taking responsibility for our community, and pointing people towards Jesus even after all this.
Reminder 1: I know there are some people around you who are freaking out in the midst of all of this. You might think they are overreacting. Your job is to care for them and make sure they are okay.
Reminder 2: I know there are some people around you who you believe are not taking this seriously enough. They go out. They don’t distance well. Your job is to care for them and make sure they are okay.
I know these two reminders are very similar. Our opinions should not dictate how we love people. Sometimes the church acts like its prime directive is to win arguments and convince people of stuff. The church’s prime directive is to love God with everything we have and everything we are and to love all people (whether we agree with them or not) with the same love that God has shown to us.
Reminder 3: love other people. I don’t want this to be a long rant, so let me leave it at this: you have friends and neighbours and part of your God given assignment is to make sure they are okay. Now that looks different in every case because we are different and everyone is responding to the virus and isolation differently, so we are going to need wisdom and discernment in what caring for people and making sure they are okay looks like. Fortunately, we have a heavenly Father that provides those things when we ask. So figure it out, and then do it. Care for the people God has placed you near. Make sure they are okay.
Reminder 4: be very careful with your “hot takes.” People love to have strong opinions and to share those strong opinions, but sharing your opinion is not loving your neighbour, so let’s make sure we are careful with that. Let me illustrate. On Instagram, a mall announced it was closed. Not big news, and not a surprise, but the number of people who weighed in with very strong “about time” opinions caught me off guard. That’s fine if you think that, but with that news comes folks being laid off because they can’t work (it is hard to clean a mall from home). The church should be looking for ways to love and care for folks affected by the headlines that elicit such hot takes. That’s our job.
So there you go church. My two cents, but don’t miss the point. You can do this. I believe in you, and more importantly your heavenly Father (who put you where you are, around the people you are around for such a time as this) believes in you. He wouldn’t have put you there if He didn’t. Go love, serve, and point people towards Him. I look forward to the stories.
Director of Leadership Development and Church Health
Free Methodist Church in Canada