10 T4ML #2 Look back (Live into and out of your values)

(10 Things For Ministers in Another Lockdown)

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

Yesterday, I encouraged you to look back and remember what helped you get through the first Lockdown last year. We can draw on our past strength as we face our current reality. We can lean into, or perhaps reinstate, things that were helpful last time around.

There’s a second kind of looking back that I want to encourage today (and it’s the second of three, so come back tomorrow for more!). This one is for you as a church, more than it is for you individually.

I encourage you to look back and live into, and out of, your values as a church. I saw this clearly demonstrated in one of the churches that I included in my case studies of covid responses. As I analysed data from their church services, interviews, and focus groups, I realised that I was hearing echoes of their values in the actions that they took and the words that they spoke.

It’s how values should work, right? They both reflect who we are as churches and provide a framework by which to discern future actions. We can ask questions like: Does this fit with our values?

There’s a whole load of resourcing and possibilities out there: a seemingly infinite number of ways you might respond to covid. Creative ideas for online worship. Pastoral care initiatives that could be implemented. Ways that you might engage with the wider community. I reckon it’d be pretty easy to get overwhelmed, or perhaps to feel inadequate, that you’re not doing enough.

Our values help hold us and guide us. If you’re a small church that prioritises community, make connecting a priority in whatever you do this week. You don’t need gorgeous visuals and cleverly-worded preaching. Open up space to share with one another. Build connections. Build on your strengths.

If you value being connected with the wider community, come together online for a quick chat, reminding people of that value, and then send everyone off to check in with (online of course) their neighbours. Then come back 30 minutes later for a final catch up.

If you particularly emphasise preaching, pull out the key points of your last two or three sermons and invite discussion of what they might have to say in our current situation. If your church is feeling the loss of sung worship, invite a couple of people to share about why a particular song is their favourite. And then play it.

It doesn’t need to be massive. It doesn’t need to be amazing. It just needs to be you.

If you’re not sure of your values, perhaps that is something you could explore together one Sunday. Asking people to share what it is that they value about your church. Mentimeter polls are fun here. You can build a word cloud of the values that are named the most frequently. (When I say YOU, I mean you can set it up to happen automatically.)

Let me know if you end up doing any of this!

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Lynne is Jack Somerville Senior Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Otago University; Director and Researcher for AngelWings Ltd; and, most importantly, wife-of-Steve; mumma of Shannon and Kayli; and daughter, sister, friend, aunt (and other essential relational connections). She’s passionate about helping people discover and grow in relationship with God. Also coffee. And creativity. And sunrises. Beaches. All sorts of good things.

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