Dear friends, Most of us are stressed and working hard to achieve new models of ministry. Many are Zoomed out!
[Brian Rosner has coined the word Zoombie for such people!] It is the end of April, and I have not had the time to write an extensive message. Here are a few thoughts about what we can learn from church ministry at this time, which may be useful to implement when the crisis is over.
Peter Adam | April 2020 | stjudes.org.au/peteradam
1. Training for ministry
I think that now is a great time to do some training for ministry via Zoom or other. Lots of people are offering activities to help fill in the time. Why not offer some training courses in, for example, How to read the Bible, Introductions to books of the Bible, thinking about current issues, evangelism, leading Bible studies, teaching young people and children?
You could coordinate some of these with a preaching program. https://bibleproject.com/ is a good resource.
2. Encouraging and challenging people to consider preparing to do full-time, trained ministry of the word, in Australia or overseas.
It would be great to do this at two levels. First a preliminary invitation to a wider range of suitable people to consider this possibility, and then, for those who make a positive response, a monthly discussion of issues: How do you decide? How can you begin to prepare? What options for ministry are there? What training will you need and how will you get it? What ministry should you be doing now to increase your future usefulness? What are the costs of ministry?
3. Mutual care
Because of the present crisis, many churches are getting their mutual care among church members organised. Might that not be a good idea to continue?
4. Intentional pastoral care by ministers
Many ministers are doing more intentional pastoral care. It also might be good to continue this in some way.
5. Church meetings online
We may well find that running church committee meetings online is a good idea, to save travel time for members.
I am really enjoying the daily morning and evening prayers at my church, which I help to lead two days a week. We get over 20 people in the morning. What a great way to pray in the midst of busy lives.
7. Phone-in pastoral messages
To provide for those who are not web-literate, or who are not connected to the web, or don’t have easy access to it, setting up a system of phoning in for a weekly pastoral message sounds a great idea.
8. Online services
I hear remarkable stories of people outside the church listening in or watching church services on the web. Surely we should think of ways to continue this. How much easier for someone outside the church to find us on the web, than to come to our buildings! We should go to them.
9. Love your neighbour
There has been a marked increase in general neighbourliness in my local community, including many offers of practical help from neighbours. Let’s encourage people to maximise this, to find new ways to love their neighbours, and to pray for gospel fruit.
I suppose the challenge will be that while ministers may want to make some changes to patterns of ministry when the crisis is over, some people will want to return to things ‘just as they were.’ So let’s keep reminding people of the value of some of our C 19 innovations.
To prompt your thinking and praying, I have attached an article someone sent me from England on online possibilities for ministry.
I am praying that God would use this merciful judgement, to bring many to faith in Christ, and to reform, revive, and reshape his people in godliness and gospel ministry.
And may God in his mercy sustain all of you in your own walk with him, in your family responsibilities, in your friendships, and in your ministries.
Thank you for your fellowship in ministry.
With warmest good wishes,