Cooking from scratch is how we cook. This is the preferred method of food preparation in our home. Starting a church from scratch however, is not something I ever wanted to do or felt called to do. It just sounds like a lot of work and no fun.
Recently, a friend and colleague shared an article that basically asserts every organization from this point on, in the new coronavirus reality, is a start-up. I read the article and instead of getting down and de-energized, found myself surprisingly engaged and hopeful. Wow! What happened?
FCC Pomona has been in ministry since 1883; that’s a pretty long time…in dog years, but not in the scope of church history. The worship life, outreach ministry, educational ministry, leadership look NOTHING like it did when the first congregation gathered in 1883. Coronavirus is forcing faster change and certainly not all of it is welcome. There are, however, some hopeful horizons emerging for our future life together and ministry.
We’ve been livestreaming worship on Facebook, something we’ve talked about for over a year. Necessity is the proverbial mother of invention. We wanted to maintain some kind of worshipful connection. Thanks in large part to the dedication of Jamie Gibson, we’ve been able to do this. Unfortunately, not all of our members are online or on Facebook, so we are still working to discern what more can be done to connect.
The first Sunday we went live, the initial views were 170 plus. By Wednesday, 350 views were logged. This means that someone viewed part or some of the Sunday worship service. We are reaching people with the good news of Christ who have never heard it before from a community of faith like ours: open and affirming, theological hopeful, taking the Bible seriously not literally. Each Sunday, three times the usual Sunday attendance “shows up” to take in spiritual nourishment.
I decided to offer a spiritual practice online when people working from home (or otherwise) could connect. It’s called “Lectio at Lunch. It happens on Tuesdays from 12:15-12:45. People from Palo Alto, to Whittier, La Verne, San Dimas and Pomona have gathered to pray together with a scripture that centers the practice.
Mike and I began working on a podcast (a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series) on reading the Bible seriously, not literally. We began last Fall and have two scripts ready. Life as usual intervened and we haven’t gotten back to it. Life is no longer as usual, so it is time to resurrect this hope; hopefully we will have the podcast up and running soon.
Today, I had a Zoom (online) visit with a homebound member I haven’t been able to see for over a month. It’s not the same, but at least there was a visit from the church.
New occasions teach new duties. Mike and I are grateful to service a congregation that has been open to change, to growing our spirits and embracing new ideas and ways of doing things. It’s just now we’ve been pushed into overdrive. We are in many ways as a congregation, a start-up. Five years ago, we would not have imagined doing ministry as we are now. There is more change to come that we cannot anticipate. It calls for us to be nimble and grounded in our values as people who seek to follow Christ.