There’s nothing like a pandemic to make you wonder if anything you’re doing in ministry is effective. I’ve never in my life felt so intelligent about my ignorance.
Our church adapted along the way, like many others, setting up an online student ministry and weekend services. We personalized what we could, went old-school on making phone calls, and asked “How can we see Jesus more clearly because of this pandemic?”
Yes, we learned things that we otherwise wouldn’t have learned.
Now, like everyone, we’re hoping to be wise through a phased reopening…
- Phase 1: Online-only ministry + tangible touches
- Phase 2: Online ministry + small groups + safe space
- Phase 3: In-person ministry + online broadcast
- Phase 4: In-person ministry + online options + future care
I’m happy to explain more about our phases—just post a comment or question below. But I’d like to highlight the last concept I listed—”Future care.”
Perhaps you’re familiar with the term PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Trauma is rooted in something that happens to us, or something we witness, or something that is so powerful that it “infects” the way we respond to circumstances in our everyday life. You can see the impact of PTSD in those who struggle to regulate their emotions, have difficulty trusting others, or are spontaneously triggered into bouts of aggression, anxiety, and depression.
With that in mind, let’s do a slow-motion replay of what happened when the coronavirus hit:
- Hear of any ongoing panic attacks when school and work suddenly became home-based?
- Aware of any homes where anger and frustration began to boil over?
- Encounter any students who gave up on school their last couple of months?
- Know of any situations where physical distancing led to rebellious attitudes?
- Heard from any individuals who shared how the isolation was overwhelming?
- Read any posts of someone grieving a loved-one or missed a key life event and couldn’t honor it properly?
We know that domestic abuse cases have increased during the pandemic. Suicide hotline counselors have needed their own counselors.
We’re all used to pushing through tough times. We find ways to cope through exercise, hobbies, cooking, creativity, and more. We reach out to friends, family or professionals for support. In the midst of it all we find ways to hold down our jobs, make school work, get home projects done, and throw birthday parties.
But I wonder what sort of PTSD we’ll be caring for in the next five years?
- What reactive habits/anger/stress that are birthed now will show up in future small group discussions, and how will we handle them?
- What set-backs and set-ups spiritually/emotionally have yet to be revealed?
- How can we invest into marriages/parenting to strengthen families?
- What benevolence ministries should we develop now as we consider the impact of financial strain on families in the long haul?
- What are the strains on how we practice church leadership, and how do we care in response?
- How do we stay ahead of things through training/encouragement so we’re ready to develop strengths in empathy, compassion, wisdom, kindness, love, and an ability to whisper others into the calming warmth of Jesus.
I wonder if you’re feeling ready to take all your next steps forward.
This whole thing is nuts. We know that it’s nuts. But do we recognize how long it’s going to feel nuts?
I’ve never in my life felt so intelligent about my ignorance.