The COVID-19 virus outbreak has called us to make difficult decisions and take unprecedented steps to protect our vulnerable neighbors and perhaps ourselves. With rapidly changing information about the outbreak, pastors, and church leaders are having to stay flexible and responsive to new information. Finding the appropriate level of caution and concern is not always clear. In Romans 13:8, Paul tells us all we owe each other is to love one another. As we think about our response to this cold and flu season and the special challenges of the COVID-19 illness, let love be our guide. Using the best information about the viruses and our creative abilities, how do we love our neighbors, families, and selves to the best of our knowledge and ability? Taking preventative measures is a loving act. Our Desert Southwest Conference website has up-to-date and helpful information for churches and individuals about these measures. Follow this link to find these resources https://dscumc.org/disaster-response-resources/.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to focus on faith in the home. What would happen if our church pastors and staffs spent time developing resources for the home or small groups? Here are some ideas:
- Create a weekly worship experience for the home.
- Develop a weekly family Sunday School packet that would include a lesson the entire family could do together.
- Help people stay connected by developing prayer resources like a prayer chain phone tree where members call or text another person from the church and ask if they have any prayer requests and pray with them.
- Encourage people to send messages to each other with blessings or Scripture verses that are meaningful to them (and maybe intentionally create a system to include people who are not well connected in the church).
- Send notes of appreciation to each other and also to healthcare workers, grocery store and pharmacy clerks, and others who are putting themselves at risk to provide for the rest of us. (Just remember to not lick the envelope! Use a sponge to close it.)
- Take meals to the sick. My husband and I were both ill recently and some friends brought us chicken noodle soup. Their gift provided us a number of healthy meals. The soup fed our bodies and their thoughtfulness and kindness fed our spirits.
- Do an all-church book study that could be done at home.
- Create weekly messages about the spiritual practice of generosity or how the offering makes a difference in the church and community.
What other resources would help you nurture your life as a disciple during this time? What other resources would help you connect to the church family when you can not physically attend church?
Marketing research has indicated that the “spiritual but not religious,” which includes the younger generations, are interested in God and like the teachings of Jesus, but they are not interested in coming to a traditional church campus. Could this be an opportunity to find new ways to be the church focused in homes and small groups? If we unleashed our creativity to focus on being the church, of creating community, while off-campus in homes and in small groups, what new things might we discover?
In Romans 8:28, Paul says, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” What good might God work in this unprecedented time? What might we discover about ourselves and our faith communities as we are forced to connect in different ways? This time in history calls us to trust in the power of God, the compassion of Christ, and in the amazing creativity of the Holy Spirit. Let us look for opportunities to lean into all of this as we love our neighbors and our families through this pandemic.
You remain in my prayers,