Wednesday, September 23, 2020
We are several months into the pandemic. Several months of physical distancing; of working with new technologies; and of reconfiguring pastoral ministry. Of worshipping online (or not) and making those tough decisions. Of seeing church finances take a hit. This is pastoral ministry in the midst of COVID-19, a ministry context for which no seminary training likely prepared us, and which it would have been difficult to imagine a year ago.
To some degree, churches have found their way into this new and unwelcome “normal.” Sunday services have moved to livestream, Zoom, audio feeds and physically distant, in-person services. Pastoral care has been re-envisioned, yet often without the possibility of physical presence. Funerals and weddings have been postponed or significantly reimagined.
But while church life is continuing, the pragmatic solutions we’ve adopted sit atop many unexplored questions and deep pastoral anxieties. There just hasn’t been time—or ready resources—to consider whether what we are doing truly aligns with the gospel. Is a Zoom Lord’s Supper effective? Is it theologically sound? What are the implications of the swift move to technology? In what ways have we fostered community while observing physical distancing? How might we think about our new practices to assess their compatibility with the gospel?
The vocational questions have also largely been set aside in the rush of adjustment. How has pastoral vocation changed? Who am I as a pastor in this new context? What role does the church board now play?
And what of when the pandemic is over and we are back to in-person worship? Will people return? How (or should) we continue to include those who have found us online? What will church look like?
How might we sustain our ministries and the church through this time and into the post-pandemic future? What is God up to in his Church through these times?
The Bible and Theology Department of Providence Seminary invites area pastors, boards and lay leaders to join us for a free half-day Zoom forum. With the help of department faculty and three area pastors, we’ll consider biblical and theological foundations for faithful ministry in and through the pandemic. And, through conversations with pastors, and in small groups and panel discussions, we’ll explore best practices, share some joys and sorrows of these months, and encourage one another as we seek to serve Christ’s Church.
Join us for this free Zoom forum on Monday, October 19th, from 9 am to 1:30 pm. Please register HERE to receive the Zoom invitation.
We’ll look forward to seeing you there. Gather with your board and lay leaders and be enriched for ongoing ministry so that we work to be faithful “in season and out of season.”