Ministry in a “New Normal”
All of us are learning to lead in a new normal. Maybe you, like me, feel a little overwhelmed by the challenge. I was reminded of this encouraging truth last week: “When God was choosing who should pastor and lead the church through the crisis of this pandemic, He chose you.” We may find ourselves in uncharted territory but God is still on the throne, we are still in His hands, and His Kingdom is still advancing!
Sunday, March 29, it was clear that more and more of our churches are learning to navigate this digital frontier. Pastor David Dignal and the team at Edgerton Wesleyan Church stepped up to the challenge and are learning quickly. Pastor John Freed and the team at Waterline Church extended congregational engagement beyond the sermon by offering a large-group Zoom meeting following their streaming service. They had about 30 adults and 20 kids jump in on that call. They’re also offering a call-in number for adults or students who want pastoral counseling through the week.
At Harvest Church (McCordsville), Pastor Brad and Heidi LeRoy are hosting a Tuesday evening open session to answer frequently asked questions.
It is exciting to see so many of you that are figuring out how to offer on-line Bible studies, family devotionals, and discipleship groups on Zoom. For example, Pastor Emily Hines at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church is coaching 24 discipleship groups that are now meeting through the week via Zoom.
One of my favorite stories is of Maelle, daughter of Pastor Mike and Kim Hewitt at Rising Hope Church. This past week, she led her first Zoom Bible study for her friends. You can find an inspiring video on their Facebook page. In the picture below, she’s the one wearing the Colts jersey. Did I mention that she’s just 9 years old?
WCJC, the local country radio station for Eastview Wesleyan Church (Gas City), has agreed to offer a one-hour time slot on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday for Eastview to broadcast their services. Has your team reached out to your TV/radio stations?
With the new April 30 mandate, it’s clear that all of us will be imagining new ways to celebrate Easter with our congregations. I heard of one church where the children’s ministry leaders are conspiring with parents and will be out getting their exercise by hiding Easter eggs (with candy and Scripture verses inside) on the lawns of each home of the children from the church. Tony Morgan’s UnStuck team provided helpful insights in this webinar entitled, “Re-Imagine Easter Gathering” – Click HERE to watch this with your leaders.
One practical way we can help each other in this new digital reality is to subscribe to each others’ YouTube channel. When a church reaches 100 subscribers, they can personalize their URL making it easier for people to find them. The next time you find yourself stuck at home with nothing urgent to do, jump on YouTube and help each other get over the top. (tip from @Karl Vaters)
Measuring engagement can be challenging in the digital realm. Pastor Kaleb Wakeman at The River Church recommends that, if you’re using Facebook for streaming your services, you may want to track 1) one-minute views, 2) shares, and 3) clicks on video. Average watch time is also a helpful stat to understand engagement.
I’ve also appreciated how most people have kept their sense of humor. Here’s one of my favorite examples:
Last Monday evening, I was scheduled to meet with the LBA at Lancaster Wesleyan Church as they continue in their pastoral search. We ended up cancelling the meeting with the updated “social distancing” directives but I dropped off resumes at the church and they are beginning to process through candidates. Tuesday morning, I taught online for IWU and then led our district staff meeting via Zoom. Tuesday afternoon, Pastor Don Bayne (New Carlisle Wesleyan) and I connected online for our annual coaching conversation. Wednesday’s online coaching conversations included Pastor Alan Downing (Frankfort Connecting Point) and Pastor Eliorgy Guerrero (Elkhart Cielos Abiertos). Thursday, Pastor Mike Cloud (Rochester The Cross) and Pastor Marc Ulrich (Merrillville ReThink Church) took time out to join me via Zoom for our annual coaching connection. My final coaching conversation for the week was on Friday afternoon with Pastor Ollie Dongell (Plymouth Wesleyan Church).
The Crossroads District partners with the Bangladesh Wesleyan Church led by Rev. Joshe Bose, National Superintendent. I reached out on Monday to wish him a “Happy Birthday” from our district team. He shared an amazing praise report of baptizing 57 new believers last week at their national church gathering. Recently, municipal authorities have requested their 5 Jesus film teams to bring the ministry to their communities.
Our prayers and sympathy are extended to Pastor Scott McDermid (Sheridan Six Points Church) on the passing of his grandmother last week. The private family service will be held this coming Thursday. We’re also praying for David Henry, husband of Assistant Pastor Michele Henry (Brookhaven Wesleyan), who was hospitalized last weekend. The family has shared updates on Facebook requesting prayer for his serious condition.
Just a reminder for our pastors that we’re hosting an all-district connection event via Zoom on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00. We want to share the latest information of how churches can participate in the “payroll protection” provisions in the $2 trillion package CARES legislation signed last Friday. Kevin Batman, General Treasurer of The Wesleyan Church, and Rev. Jerry Alexander, regional representative for U.S. Senator Mike Braun, are encouraging our churches to make the most of this opportunity. Join us Tuesday at 2.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. Special thanks to General Treasurer Kevin Batman and his team who mobilized an online giving platform for Wesleyan churches. If your church doesn’t yet provide that option, here’s the link for more information:
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