(A reflection in response to Shannon Youell’s “How then, Shall We Meet?”)
By: Mark Archibald – Pastor of Spiritual Formation, Lethbridge First Baptist Church
Prior to COVID-19, I was WAY off in my ministry approach and priorities. A friend from several years of summer camp moved his family down to Lethbridge for a 3-month contract job. In years previous we had very important conversations about life and faith. This is a good and dynamic relationship, one that continues to grow. In the three months this important friend was in town, how much do you think we saw each other?
ONCE! And that was to help him move in! There’s something wrong with my lifestyle, including both busy-ness and work, when there is no space on the schedule for a friend like this.
I am busy with community stuff outside of church (a flag football team, school council, and other community connections), and parenting takes its share of work, but the fact that I took zero time to nurture this relationship with a friend is significant! Much of my busy-ness was church stuff, which doesn’t always have the community building and connecting benefit that it should.
See if you relate to this pattern in ministry:
- Step 1 – “I need to help our families with parenting resources.”
- Step 2 – “I will prepare an event for families and spend hours and hours investing in it.”
- Step 3 – “I need to convince families at my church to attend or I will have wasted my time.”
- Step 4 – Advertise and convince families to attend, and be a little sad more didn’t show up.
- Step 5 – Begin planning the next event – fingers crossed that more show up next time!
There is a LOT of time expended coming up with programs that I think are important, and just as much time convincing people to attend them. The time spent on programming may have been better spent personally with those attending families AS WELL AS other ones!
I’m trying to shift away from “attend my event” to “walk with me” approach. That seems to be healthier for everyone and puts less pressure on everyone. It allows for real community to grow.
COVID was bad. Awful. But few things have given us permission to shut things down and re-evaluate life patterns as much COVID has. I have written down “In what ways do we meet again?” on my office white board as a reminder of how we best move forward as a community of believers. As I reboot, I’m returning to a familiar and favourite verse: “let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).