Charge Conferences in the district are off and running. In the meetings already accomplished and in the reports I’ve already read, things are just as I suspected … INSPIRING. The pandemic has forced us into a difficult and trying season. None of us were prepared for the situations we found ourselves in. None of us had a map that revealed the clear path forward or the goal to which we were headed. This was a truly liminal time without clear direction.
To everyone’s credit, no pastor or congregation chose to hide from the issue. In most cases, clergy and laity entered into deep discussion about what it means to be the church. Even if not framed with this language, it was a conversation about core values and fundamental missional identity. The responses where as diverse as the people and leaders in local churches. Some churches have been led to start radical new ministries. Others discovered ways to enhance missions that were desperately needed in their communities. All churches discovered new ways to worship.
So far, in the charge conference reports and the oral testimonies within the meetings, beautiful stories have unfolded about God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficult circumstances. Like Joseph’s pronounce, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20), Mordecai’s prodding of Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to royal dignity for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), or the Spirit preventing Paul from going the Bithynia and leading him to Macedonia (Acts 16), churches are offering narratives of how God guided them in ways that blessed both the congregation and the community. While no church has claimed this has been an easy season, they all have found God at work in their midst.
Upon reflection, I’ve discovered two important lessons in these accounts. First, how we tell our stories matters. Narratives gives meaning to our experiences. Reflecting on good questions help us to both see and express our experiences in holy ways. Second, leadership in uncertain times is not about clarity in the future or knowing our destination. Rather, it is about moving forward in ways that honor the core values of our churches and meets the real needs within the communities we serve.
For churches with whom I have met, thank you for the reminder of the goodness of God in the midst of this pandemic season. For churches with whom I have yet to meet, I am excited to hear your stories of God’s grace and guidance. For all churches and leaders, may God continue to guide, bless and empower you and your work.
If you would like to view past editions of Moments with Mike, follow this link: https://corridordistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/