A Tale of Two Conversations
As we move into Level 3 and more businesses get up and going, great creativity and innovation have emerged. ‘Click and collect’ and ‘contactless delivery’ are now familiar terms . Businesses have had to read the times and adjust —for many, a radical rethink has been needed.
I have been wondering what these times mean for the church. It is too early yet to reach any firm conclusions, but let me share with you two conversations I have had recently, and how they are helping shape my thinking about the future of the church in Aotearoa.
Friday’s Zoom conversation: a friend in India reflects on the experience of her church
In the initial response to the pandemic, most of the energy of my friend’s church was invested in setting up church online and figuring out how to deliver a variety of programmes via technology. Now they are moving into the next phase. Their conversation has turned to how the church can best serve the poor and vulnerable in their community who are suffering greatly as a result of the lock-down.
This raises a question for us too. How do we rise to the challenge of these uncertain economic times and the needs of the vulnerable, especially with the inequalities that bubble-living has intensified?
I think of two questions asked by Beth Barnett, an Australian theologian and a sharp thinker!
What works? What matters?
When we went into lock-down, the pressure was on to respond quickly and to take our services online. We had to do what worked. Now, with a bit of time and space, a new question emerges: what matters? As we look to the future this will be very important. We have the opportunity to take some things with us and leave other things behind. We have the opportunity to look at what new priorities are emerging and decide where our energy and focus should be. How do we best serve our communities and bring God’s love and compassion to all we encounter?
Conversation two: a family member via Instagram
When a family member shared this post below, via Instagram, it started a beautiful conversation about faith formation and family life. It’s a long post but I will share it all, as there is much to ponder. I don’t want to dissect it, but rather to invite you to ponder for yourself and your church what questions arise from it about the way we have done church in the past, and what we want our corporate lives together to look like in the future.
“I’m enjoying the rhythm of our Sunday mornings as we gather together for church online. It’s such a sweet time with the kids. Whether we’re all on the couch together watching or spread throughout the living room, even drawing at the table or reading Calvin & Hobbs, it’s comforting to be together hearing the same message of hope. Sometimes they listen or sing or grab their Bible or cuddle with us but even when they don’t it’s a sacred time. I try to take snapshots in my head of what these moments hold so I can keep them in my heart. Church normally seems a lot harder getting everyone ready and out the door, fielding the usual complaints of why people don’t want to go, why they want to be with us during the service or in their class, the impatience waiting for it to end and for Mom to stop chatting with everyone she sees.
Now they know the routine, no one has to have pants on, plus there’s no worrying about the usual social interactions or expectations so we can all simply gather together and be. Being yourself, coming just as you are, gathering together - sounds like God’s kingdom to me. Having church makes me feel connected to our community that I miss so much, knowing our ... church family is all sitting down to watch together at the same time as us. It’s a shared experience with my church family but even better it’s a shared experience with my family and I don’t want to forget how precious that feels.”
What is precious to us?
As we reflect on this time in lock-down and turn our eyes with hope towards the future, we will have precious moments that we carry with us. Let’s not lose those moments as life picks up pace again. This is an opportunity to let these experiences shape us, and shape the way we think about the church as the family of God, and how we express that in our communities.