Pastor’s Corner – What’s Next?
As you read this, I am heading off on “vacation”. This year looks very different than we expected. Our family has saved for several years to be able to go to Washington, DC and New York City this summer. The friend who was going to let us stay at their house contracted COVID-19 and well, you know the rest of the reasons. So, instead we are headed to Nebraska to stay with a family member and at least have some time away.
Everything has been happening so fast and is changing so dramatically I have been more focused on tomorrow than “two months from now”. I have recently been trying to change this by asking the question “What is next?” What does the near future look like and how can we be more proactive with life and ministry instead of being so reactive like these last several months?
This leads me to another question I often ask, but haven’t been asking lately, “What is God trying to do here?” I say trying, not because God isn’t capable, but rather, because I am not always listening well. In the midst of the chaos of Corona, racial unrest and trying to become an expert on safety protocols for churches and schools, it has been easy to get lost in the weeds. It is difficult to hear God’s voice when all the other voices are so loud and seem so important.
So, how do we refocus? What should we consider as we do? Are there some specific steps and strategies we can take? I recently met with some other leaders in nearby communities and came up with a few practical things to consider.
- Plan for the next “wave” – we all hope this won’t come, but what if we are ready for it just in case it does? Stock up on toilet paper now J. Stay in the habit of washing and sanitizing.
- Create a Quaranteam – The stay at home orders were difficult before, if they happen again, it could be mind-numbing. Find a small group of people (neighbors, Community Group, family, other) and plan ahead now for what the expectations are to work together as a team in the next wave. This maintains safety, but increases our support and influence.
- Follow up with the Spiritually Curious – During the outbreak many of you shared stories of family members, friends and co-workers who were joining us online for worship. How are they doing now? This doesn’t mean asking them how they liked the service. This means staying in touch and asking how they are doing. They may say “fine” for a while, but if God is stoking spiritual curiosity, He will not let it burn out easily.
- Grow as a disciple-maker – As a church community, we have become highly dependent on large events and gatherings. These are good and Godly, but we have become increasingly inept at personal relationships and large gatherings are not likely to return for quite some time. Now is the perfect opportunity to work on your skills as a disciple- maker. Whether in your home or other circle of influence.
- Grow as a follower of Jesus – One of my favorite memes during this pandemic has been the one that calls out our excuse making. It simply said “I used to say I was too busy to clean; now I just have to admit, I don’t like doing it.” Similarly, our hectic lives have been our convenient excuse to not engage in the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus; read scripture, worship, pray, mentor, serve, work then rest, and listen to God. Now is the perfect time to practice these skills!
- Make sure as life resumes you keep space for the important things you rediscovered – Whatever it is that you had lost focus on, don’t return to the old habits and lose focus again. God has given us a gift, if we allow it to be.
I hope these ideas help you start thinking about what is next. This of course is not a complete list, but it should definitely get you thinking about what God might want to accomplish through you in these interesting times. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” Romans 8:28