Even before COVID-19, the Christian church has been living during In Between Times. The uncertainty of our present days adds new dimensions to that divide.
For those whose idea of the church springs from experiencing the church of the 1950’s through early 1980’s, church is a communal experience. The church building was the heart of that experience. Being together was central to that expression of the church. We came together to listen to sermons, to be educated and to do projects. It was a highly passive experience of church. We showed up and church happened. It was a shoulder-to-shoulder experience, physically present for each other.
I grew up in a town of 1,200 people and belonged to a congregation with 1,000 members. In addition to the public school system, the church defined our community because most of us gathered there, heard the same... read more
Listening the voices of those people who make up our faith community. Take a moment to hear their stories.
A Poem by participant Carma Coon
My Morning Prayer
Longing for human touch
Phone calls, zoom, Skype, Facetime
But it’s not enough
How long, how long, oh Lord
You Lord are here, touch me
I cry for all your people Lord
I cry for myself
We are weary, our bones ache
We pray, oh Lord, for renewed strength
We say we’ll get through this
We... read more
It is impossible to connect to any media today without being bombarded by questions. It is just what happens when the world is turned upside down for this long.
“When can we expect the crisis to be over?” “When can return to work?” Can we return to work?” “How long will it take the economy to recover?” “Will this pandemic boomerang in some mutated form?” “How did we not see this coming?”
Church leaders ask their own versions: “When can we return to ‘ministry as usual’?” “How has this crisis impacted the church?” “Will we come back weaker or stronger?” “How can we be better prepared to survive the next round?”
Look again. These are slight variations medical questions which, given the church is an organism, seems appropriate. I certainly have no medical agree — and I appreciate that pundits are a dime a dozen these days — but as... read more
You know her. She’s been a member at your church since our family had arrived in town 55 years ago. She and my dad raised all of us there. Since then, two more generations are a part of the mix. She’s sung in the choir, been on Council, ran a food bank there forever, always attended the early service, has enjoyed Bible studies and WELCA over the years. So much. We’ve had all of our family’s baptisms, marriages, funerals there. She 91…even had her 90th birthday celebration there at church almost two years ago.
I talked to her the other day. Actually, I talk to her at least every other day. You see, she still lives at home. Yep, pretty healthy. Takes care of most stuff around there. But, with all of this Covid-19 business, she’s pretty stuck there, too. My brother and sister are in town, and they see her with regularity. But she doesn’t really get out. ... read more
Maybe the best response to the current reality is, "Lord have mercy".
This video was created to express that lament and that hope.
Here in New York City, we are beginning the 6th week of working remotely and providing livestreamed and online worship and small group opportunities for our congregation at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan. I imagine it’s the same for many of you.
Everything has shifted…and people are looking for leadership in the midst of this crisis. It’s fair to say none of us has ever experienced anything like this before. I was in New York on September 11, 2001, serving as pastor of a congregation in Manhattan.
This crisis is so much more challenging than 9/11 because it’s an invisible threat, a virus that moves from person to person easily and quickly, and we have no idea when things will get better. 9/11 was a catastrophic event but the clean-up began immediately. COVID-19 is something altogether different.
Here are some thoughts I have had about... read more
“Stress is not the enemy in our lives. Paradoxically, it is the key to growth.”
In his book, “The Power of Story,” Jim Loehr suggests that most of us live out of the story that is most central to us, and that curiously that story is oftentimes false. “Oh, you bet, my health and my family are most important to me,” all the while ignoring a current reality of high blood pressure, poor diet, too many hours working and little positive energies for spouse and children. Let’s just say there are far too frequently unexamined gaps or inconsistencies that exist.
Loehr suggests that only a truthful reckoning with “our actual story,” and then making necessary amendments to it, will lead to a life of greater vitality, satisfaction and engagement. Stress... read more
Most of us have not been trained or educated to know how to lead during such incredibly difficult times. So, what do you do?
I sat down with four pastors from around the country and asked them to share their experiences. This is a video sharing their thoughts.
Jeff Kjellbert | Owner | Kairos and Associates and The Joshua Group | email
“Are ever going to be able to leave behind this social-distancing way of life?” my neighbor wondered. As we stood chatting on the sidewalk, six-feet apart while our dogs romped and wrestled, we both marveled at the way this would change us as a society.
We won’t really know how until new vaccines or treatments make lock-downs and quarantines things of the past. However, what we do know is that “returning to normal” will not mean returning to the way things were pre-C19.
Until a new normal emerges, questions abound. In times like these, no amount of data or science can answer the questions about how this pandemic is reshaping and reforming us as human beings. What is God is up to and how is God transforming us? Quick-fix answers to questions like this won’t suffice. We cannot be today what only time will make of us tomorrow.
So perhaps... read more
Letting go is the first step in moving forward. It seems counter-intuitive, I know. A new beginning always starts with an ending. And endings can be painful. Just ask anyone who has lost a loved one, job, house, dream, etc. All of us can say that loss is painful.
So, why do we have to let go in order to start anew? The simplest answer is that we need to let go to make room for the new. For organizations, before you can become different, you must let go of your old identity. Our problem is... we don’t like endings.
One of the biggest obstacles of healthy transition and change for organizations is the failure to identify losses and prepare for endings. Leaders need to think ahead and prepare the organization for some kind of change. And that change will involve endings AND new beginnings.
"All changes, even the most longed for,... read more