How are you online?
In the case of my own church, it feels that eight weeks into lockdown we have got a reasonable grasp of how to do online services. What we do is getting better week by week as we learn new skills and means of communication. It’s certainly not perfect, but it seems to be serving church members well and is well enough done to be able to invite the non-churched to watch without worrying they will be immediately put off. It looks, though, as if we are going to have to keep doing this for quite some time – so there’s plenty of room for improvement.
How about your church? How are your Sundays? How are you most effectively utilising Zoom? What online initiatives have worked well? What do you need to change?
Don’t just keep doing what you are doing. Keep asking the question.
How are you planning?
In the UK it looks as though we will be allowed to have some kinds of physical gatherings after July 4th – but those gatherings will be severely restricted, and July 4th is still six weeks away. That means we still have six weeks of doing what we’re doing and it means we have six weeks to get ready for what comes next: how far have you got in planning for what that might look like?
Life will be far from back to normal and churches will be having to navigate doing some things physically, at a distance of 2 meters from one another, with other things staying online. Even as so much remains uncertain we need to be intentional in preparing ourselves for all this.
How are you resting?
For many of us, the first phase of lockdown has been incredibly busy. Learning those new online skills and working hard at creating new patterns of pastoral care and connection has been all-consuming. My hunch is that when we come through the tight lockdown restrictions things will get busier again, not easier: doing life with some physical proximity but social distancing measures in place, having to maintain online provision, pastoring people through corona-PTSD, remaining alert and ready to respond if a second wave of the virus necessitates another lockdown, and so on, will give us even more to do.
So while we need to be busy these next six weeks planning and preparing for the next phase we also need to be busy resting in order to build reserves of energy for what comes next.
That applies to us personally but this experience has also created opportunities to think about how society as a whole might get better at resting. I’d love to see a return to a restriction on Sunday trading hours: wouldn’t we all be better off with one day of the week which is not consumed with consumerism? (There is a UK petition to Parliament to this effect here – though hardly anyone has signed it yet.)
Of course, there are many other corona-questions but those three seem essential ones to me. What are your answers?