In one of my former lives as a children’s minister, I had the “joy” of corralling young urchins while we waited for their parents to pick them up. Their patience was about as good as a gnat. But to keep them safe from strangers, an adult had to be there until one or both parents arrived on the scene. Needless to say, I heard this phrase, “Can we go now?” numerous times! What was interesting while we were waiting was that if I or another adult got them focused on a new game or an activity, then it was the parents saying the words, “Can we go now?” because the kids were wrapped up in what they were doing, not watching the clock and could care less about leaving.
Well, as you might could imagine I think there are some of us as adults who are much like our children. We have been asking each other and maybe even God, “Can we go now?” “Can we go back to the way things were?” Much like children we get impatient with all our setbacks because just about the time we feel like we are turning the corner with the pandemic then we go back to Step One. It seems the waiting will never end. But be of good cheer! We are not alone in history. The Israelites in the Old Testament had this same feeling while they waited in exile to be free from their conquerors.
Yet it looks like these delays are not going away any time soon. With that in mind, here are some ways you can endure the “Can We Go Now?” moments in your life.
- Remember letting go of the old norm is always hard. In reality, we have been seeing the old way of doing things disintegrate for quite some time in church work. But be careful! Do your best to replace whatever that is still left over from the old school with something that is better than what you had. If you rush in like you did at the first of the pandemic and don’t get buy-in now on the new concept, be ready for trouble. It may cause a vacuum and later be filled with something that is not good for either you or the church.
- Keep listening to God in your individual life and in the life of our congregation to see what He may have in store for both of you during this time. If there is anything that this pandemic has taught us is how to be more patient and how to slow down our lifestyles. For far too long we as ministers or church leaders have gone putting out one fire to only go to another one that needs our attention. This setback may be just the way our Lord is trying to make us realize we need to hear his voice again and see the bigger picture with Him in mind.
- Take a good inventory of ways you can minister more effectively to each other and your world. For example, over the past year at the church where I am serving as interim pastor, we not only conducted drive-in worship services but enlarged our impact by joining forces with three other churches in this rural area of Virginia and hosted a drive-through Christmas pageant last year as well as a community VBS this summer. These and many other creative ministries were highly successful. However, all of them probably would not have taken place if the pandemic didn’t come along and make us think outside the box.
Through it all just remember that God is always calling us forward to a new day. But his timetable is not the same as ours. Therefore, if you still find yourself in the “wilderness”, look around and see what God may have in store for you. There is a good chance you won’t go back now!
These thoughts above are from Rev. Steve Zimmerman, the founding partner in the ministry. He works alongside churches in their mission process and small group dynamics. He coordinates the work of the partnership out of Danville, Virginia. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at [email protected]