Trying New Things

Ministry in the midst of covid meant reimagining ministry beyond the ability to gather together with people in person. People tried all kinds of innovative things – virtually, outdoors, asynchronously, and beyond. New ministries developed, old ministries either died or changed. For two full years ministers adapted, changed, innovated, all while battling the increasingly volatile political climate and in the midst of a global pandemic that isolated our most vulnerable populations.

Many people responded well to the first two years of the constant flow of new ideas. While the Church has been labeled as change-resistant, people at the very least appreciated the effort put into trying to engage people in ministry while adhering to social distancing and other covid guidelines. Whether things worked or not, I hope that it changed the culture of “trying new things” and being okay with something not working out. Maybe we learned more adaptive skills and became more practiced in letting go of how things used to be.

Yet, now here we are, September 2022, eighteen months after the March 2020 shutdown. and we’re still trying new things. Even for us who have been working in churches for decades, ministry seems like it’s throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. People do not engage with Church in the same way they did pre-covid. And while participation was already trending towards where we are now, covid certainly escalated the decline. So what are we to do?

I’ve been reminded of some attitudes lately, such as, “no response is a response,” or “if people wanted to be here, they’d be here.” And while yes, these may be true, what these statements fail to consider is the insurmountable trauma and grief we all experienced the last eighteen months. Especially parents and children. I’ve heard from youth ministers all over the country who now deal with behavior issues they didn’t have before the pandemic. Mental health issues abound. Expectations are that we all just go back to how things were, with twelve hour work days and busy calendars. But we all loved to think at the beginning of covid that we would never ever go back to that lifestyle?

So we’re trying new things. It’s exhausting. Everything is different, everything is new. Even our newly renovated building. Some of the newness is exciting and is bearing fruit. Some of the newness is exhausting and draining. So in the midst of trying new things, my new mantra is, “grace. grace. and more grace.”

Give yourself some grace…and then a little more. Think of it as the item on the covered dish line that you love the most. Start with a little, then don’t kid yourself, you want/need more. maybe a little more.

Take a deep breath and know that you. are. enough.
Go outside and breathe in the fresh air – and if it’s raining, allow yourself to get soaking wet and think of that as God’s grace washing over you.

breathe in grace.
breathe out grace.
breathe in grace.
breathe out grace.

Try this new thing – instead of beating yourself up or comparing yourself to others or giving up:

Allow God’s grace to flow through you to cleanse you of those toxins that are causing that pain in your body, mind, and soul – and know that you are loved.

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