You may be wondering what the new lead pastor at Manchaca UMC is reading? In addition to several spiritual formation and spiritual direction resources, this month I am reading and digesting this book by Rebekah Simon-Peter, "Embracing the Next Normal: forging a new path; moving the church forward in a post-pandemic world."
I have questions as I assume you do regarding the practice of worship and the near future expectations for our assembly of Jesus-followers. If we can agree that "post-pandemic" now applies in our context, then RSP offers some questions and her insight into those questions that may be useful for our discussion.
She states that most pastors and church leaders she knows are asking three (3) persistent questions:
When Do Things Go Back to Normal?
How Do We Get People (Back) to Church?
How Do We Do More with Less?
In her book, RSP compares the impacts of pandemic in our current context with that of the bubonic plague on the church of an earlier day. Even though the current pandemic has only lasted several years as against the waves of death experienced over earlier centuries, she posits that the impact to people's lives and the impact to the church can be similarly viewed. And she believes lessons can be learned from the earlier pandemic(s) as to our actions going forward in the church.
I am still digesting her work and finding my own agreement and disagreement with it. Maybe her truth-speaking is still too difficult for me to hear. I will be praying over this reading and discussing it with our church staff and church leaders. What we choose to do with it may be a blessing for our church? If so, I will report back to you in a later edition.
In the meantime, allow me to say to you these things that come from RSP in this book:
Something new emerged then for the church. I believe something new will emerge for the church in which we serve. We must begin to embrace that something new and engage our communities of faith in the unfolding future. Community and belonging in community continues to be a spiritual necessity for all believers. How will we engage that need and invite our neighbors, friend and stranger alike?
In the almighty presence of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the comfort and advocate Spirit of God, may you find blessing in your faith journey. May it be shared so that glory comes upon this world in our time.
Peace. Along the Way.
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend