Being an extreme introvert, it’s not hard for me to stay home for long periods of time. I was a champion at social distancing before it was a thing! I rarely go to stores, with most of my shopping being done on-line. Shifting to working virtually fits me well. Technology has played an increased roll in my life since I became a District Superintendent, helping to prepare me for our current situation. I find myself, though, still resistant to making some changes.

This past week I struggled with the need (desire?) to deposit a check at the bank. Most of my banking is done on-line.  I still, however, go to the bank to deposit checks and get cash. It might be strange, but I enjoy going to the bank. I like seeing the tellers in person and know most of them. Although going to the bank is a normal activity for me, this week has been anything but normal. I wondered if it would be socially responsible for me to go to the bank when it wasn’t really necessary? I considered using the drive-through window, even though I haven’t done this in decades. This felt like a better option than going to a teller (was the lobby even open?), yet it still wasn’t feeling right. It’s easy to say we are willing to risk catching the COVID-19 virus, but this isn’t all about us. Our being reckless endangers other people who have not accepted the risk. Do we have the right to make this decision for them because we were not willing to take precautions, such as staying at home? I understand some people don’t have the option to stay home. Many of us, though, do have this privilege. Does being socially responsible mean my check couldn’t be deposited? I already knew there was another choice.

I have intentionally resisted learning how to deposit checks on-line. A teller asked me quite a while back if I wanted to learn how, and I said “no”. Is this because I thought it would be too hard? No, I just didn’t want to do it. As much as I preach about the need to be open to change, there are times I fight hard to keep things the same. There has been no strong motivation for me to use this technology…until this week. This week it was the right choice for me. It only took me a few minutes to down-load the bank’s app and figure out how to make the deposit. Saturday afternoon (after the bank was closed) I made my first on-line deposit. It was very convenient, and I’m wondering why I fought it so hard? Even when life gets back to normal, I might choose to start using this app.

For a long time, I have felt United Methodist churches have been focusing too much within our own walls. There are tools available to reach beyond our walls, but we have been very resistant to using them. Even our decades-long shrinking membership has not been strong enough motivation for most of us to use the available tools. Meeting in person has been a normal part of our lives…until this week. This week COVID-19 has pushed us out of our church buildings. Does this mean all of our churches are closed? Not at all! I have seen more church activity this week than I think I’ve ever seen. On Sunday I attended six virtual worship services, along with listening to a children’s story in the evening. I’m so proud of our Conference churches! Most of our churches have been in full-creativity mode this week. Worshipping in person is so last month!

I admit I’m looking forward to being able to worship in person again. Until that time, though, there are many options for us to stay connected as the church family. Are we willing to learn and use the tools available to us? Our Conference website is a good place to learn about some of these tools if you are looking! It’s my hope when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, we will continue using many of these tools. We have gotten comfortable (too comfortable?) within our church buildings. It’s hard, if not impossible, for us to reach the world for Christ when we keep our Christian message within the church walls. Now that we have been forced outside of the walls, what will we do once we are allowed back inside?

Your brother on the journey, Mark

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