By Jeff Gibson, Ken Caryl Church, Littleton, CO
The past few months have certainly been an intense and unexpected course in church leadership and pastoral ministry! While there have been confusing and difficult scenarios to work through, this has also been really good for the church, at least for Ken Caryl Church. Here is some of what we have been learning.
Significant adjustments had to be made quickly.
Just like everyone else we realized around March 12 that we would not be gathering together as a church family on March 15. That presented a real challenge for us. Up until this time we had been posting audio of Sunday sermons on our church website. The question quickly became, “Can we video our church service a few days ahead, upload it to an online platform, and then invite the church to go to church together when we are not actually together? And can we have that ready by this Sunday?”
It was truly exciting to watch our staff, worship team, and volunteers figure this out. All of the details fell into place, Ken Caryl’s service was now on YouTube, and we were a church meeting in homes rather than in the building. There was even excitement when people began sharing the link to the service and saw friends and family watching, especially those who were not connected to a church. We now had access to people we did not have access to before. This was an adjustment we didn’t know we could make, but our Lord had the right people in place for this time. Our small groups moved to Zoom, which was also completely new. All of these things have been a significant adjustment that we believe is leading to significant outreach.
Significant investments need to be made for ministry in the future.
When we realized the online presence would be here to stay for Ken Caryl, we had to determine what that would look like, even beyond the coronavirus pandemic. We really felt like a livestream option would suit the church well now, and also in the future. This would require a financial investment in equipment, installation, and upgraded internet speed in the church building. The church decided to spend a substantial amount of money to make all of these things possible. For one, they saw the need and the opportunity. Secondly, they really appreciated the effort being made online. These upgrades became about ministry and outreach not just for now, but for the future.
Another investment we are making is in regard to how we think about ministry in the future. If any of us have ever thought to ourselves, “I would like to consider other ways to approach ministry and discipleship in the church, but I can’t find the time to do it because I’m so consumed with all of the current ministry initiatives,” well, most of what we are used to has been put on hold. It is the ideal time to think about what discipleship for kids, students, and adults looks like going forward. Having the opportunity to really evaluate and rethink is significant for us.
Significant shift in current ministry perspective.
We held our first corporate gathering on June 28, an outdoor gathering. Leading up to this we realized that some people were anxious to meet right away, some were willing to meet and also cautious about doing so, and some were clearly not going to be ready to meet with others for quite a while. We have tried to communicate to the church that each of these perspectives is okay! One is not better than the other. We have realized that ministry for us right now will mean ministering to those who are ready to gather and also ministering to those who are not yet ready to gather. We need to minister to the church online and the church in-person. We are now one church meeting in two different ways. This has been a significant adjustment in thinking for us.
Significant questions need to be asked.
For me personally the most prominent question that has crossed my mind is this: Had we as pastors and leaders prepared the church for this unexpected season? I have thought a lot about the “gathered church” and the “scattered church.” We are accustomed to being and functioning as a gathered church. But when the pandemic limited our ability to gather and we as a church were now scattered throughout our neighborhoods, were we ready for that? Had we prepared the church for ministry when scattered? Had we prepared the church to reach out with intentionality to those around them? Had we prepared the church to know how to spend time with the Lord in a personal and consistent way?
When Nehemiah asked for permission to go and rebuild Jerusalem I’m sure he had no idea what the work would ultimately entail and even the leadership that would be required of him. That is probably how must of us are feeling right now as pastors. But what great things the Lord accomplished through Nehemiah’s willing heart! This is a significant season for each of our churches. We have had to make significant adjustments and investments. Ministry looks and feels significantly different and we have significant questions to ask and answer. But the Father will use this time to draw others to faith in Jesus. Let’s continue to lead our churches toward this end.