A Word from Walker
As churches begin to slowly roll back into public worship services I thought it would be important to think through some key issues. My purpose in this is to not to create hard and fast guidelines but to share two fundamental concepts that would help shape conversations with the leaders and members of your churches.
First, be governed by love. In a time of great uncertainty and increased political division the church should model a calm, confident commitment to desire, discern and do what is in the best interests of others. This requires projecting humility more than giving simple answers that will please everyone. Currently I have found that people want easy answers to hard questions, and it is difficult not to comply to keep in their good graces. But you have to fight the temptation to give people what they want versus what they need.
Doing this is not easy. Loving others well requires sacrifice. In this case, you might have to sacrifice the superficial and inaccurate (but ego-feeding) persona of having it all together as a leader. This is tough because people will want to make coming back together just about whether or not to wear masks; how or if folks should be screened at the door before entering church facilities; or even if the church should comply with governmental mandates. Leaders have to make tough decisions in this potentially contentious environment. In this context, that means because no decision will please everyone, leaders will have to make sure that people know that they are doing their best to do what is in the overall best interests of others.
Second, be guided by honesty. Nothing quells trust quicker than inconsistent or duplicitous communication. This is not about perfecting a technique or even making sure everyone in leadership roles are on the same page. These things are important, but they pale in comparison to telling people what you know and what you are intending to do in clear, consistent terms. Because we are currently living in a very fluid context where things seem to be changing on a daily basis it is important to update people regularly with what you know.
There are times when this will require that you have to make changes in mid-stream. If you are consistently updating people it will be ok to amend your plans or even admit missteps. This is extremely important if you ever have a breakout of COVID-19 in your congregation. You need to have a plan in place to ensure that this information is shared comprehensively and quickly in order to better serve your congregants. If you are slow to do this people will wonder if they have been told the whole truth. And once trust is lost you will have an uphill battle for obtaining endorsement for any decision you feel has to be made. Trusting your folks with the truth will not only yield their endorsement, it will also reveal unknown capacities that they have to help solve problems or leverage new ministry opportunities.
Love and honesty do not require perfection from leaders. But these values do protect a church from ignoring the real needs and capabilities of their members. Please know that we are here to serve you in these tumultuous days.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
But you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The word POWER has so many uses in our society as well as within our community of faith. When someone says that the power went out, there is no doubt as to which power they are referring to. The inconvenience of having a power outage usually manages to affect almost every aspect of our daily lives. We may improvise with batteries, flashlights, cell phones, etc., but those only last so long. Some may even turn to a generator to fuel their homes and temporary needs, but a generator is subject to its own limitations and power sources as well.
The church in the book of Acts received POWER. It was a new power source that was comparable to having the very incarnation of God in their lives without the visible component. The Holy Spirit would indwell God's people as a seal of salvation that would empower us to do God-sized tasks that exceeded expectations on so many levels. It often could not be explained or quantified through scientific study, but God moved in ways that usually defied comprehension.
This POWER is given in the original Greek language of the New Testament as dunamis. When you say it out loud our first inclination would be...dynamite! Which is pretty accurate, but God's dynamite is drastically different. My Greek teacher in college would always be careful to remind us that just saying that this is a Greek correlation to dynamite was not sufficient. It is much bigger, more powerful, and even more miraculous than our conception of dynamite. If you study the word it is often translated as "miraculous." So we can incorporate that into our understanding that it is not a destructive force as much as a constructive force at work in us! It is a life changing force that takes broken people and makes us whole again. It empowers disciple-making churches to engage brokenness with the help and hope of the Gospel.
So as we may sing hymns with lines such as "power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the lamb" or other contemporary songs that speak of that same power, what does that look like on Monday morning? How does that translate in a world full of Covid fears and racial turmoil? Does that completely nullify our plans for outreach during the month of August as we strive for a Missions Blast? I don't believe so. If we have truly received this Spirit as described in the book of Acts, then God miraculously gifts and empowers us to be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost.
I pray that the power is not out in your church when it comes to the Holy Spirit. God is able to mobilize His church to make a God-sized impact where we live even now. As always, we stand ready to pray and engage with you as churches as much as possible. We also have anchor churches who have offered to help others connect during these challenging times. We believe that this time is too crucial to allow it to pass without demonstrating the power of God to those around us. How can we serve our community today?
Coming soon! We are going to start a new series that will highlight how our churches are making a difference in the community. These short videos will be available on our social media pages as well as Youtube. Let us know if you have a story to tell!
Community Missions Catalyst