April 06, 2020 | Articles | Stories by Patty Groot
Several months ago, the staff of Christ Church United Methodist took on the assignment of reading and discussing a book called Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger. The staff was taking steps to prepare themselves for the new and unknown reality of what church might look like after the decision was made on the issues being presented at General Conference 2020. Little did they know that God was preparing them for a different challenge, the new and uncharted territory of being unable to gather as a community of faith due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the quotes from the book which was memorable for the staff was, “It is possible to prepare for the future without knowing what it will be. The primary way to prepare for the unknown is to attend to the quality of our relationships, to how well we know and trust one another.” (Margaret Wheatley, When Change Is Out of Control) They discussed the current state of relationships and trust they had as a staff and as a church.
Although the book may have been filed back on bookshelves, the words and meaningful discussion were on the forefront of the staff’s minds as they continued to integrate the wisdom they had gained in all aspects of their ministry. It was the week of March 8 that the staff and leadership of Christ Church made the decision to cease all gatherings, including worship, for the care and safety of the congregation. Within hours, plans began to emerge to continue discipleship and ministry in new and exciting ways. In just a few days, the worship team along with the communications team had a plan to stream live worship on the internet. Children’s groups and confirmands began to meet through a program called Zoom.
Jennie Weeks, Director of Adult Classes and Studies recalls a time, almost 35 years ago, when she requested that the church purchase a computer with a dial-up modem. Jennie said, “They asked me how in the world I was going to use that thing to do ministry!” And now, some 35 years later, it has become the tool we use most to carry on the work of the church. In less than two weeks, most Sunday school classes, small groups and children meet through technology and church services are streamed on Sunday mornings. “We haven’t missed a beat,” said Interim Senior Pastor, Becki Curry.
“We protect what we cherish. Love drives us to hold on to what is dear and cling to what gives us meaning and life. But it is also because of love that we are willing to change.“ (Bolsinger)
Love of God and love of one another is the fuel that leads them into the future.