“Trouble can always be borne when it is shared.”
—Katherine Paterson, The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks
We live in troubled times. Restrictions placed on us by COVID have required churches to significantly pivot how they do ministry. Previous faith-forming opportunities held within the brick and mortar building of the church are no longer possible, forcing pastors and church leaders to think outside the box about how to “do discipleship” during a pandemic. This creates stress and uncertainty, but it also creates feelings of loneliness and isolation as pastors and church leaders struggle with how to fulfill the church’s calling to faith formation in their context during this pandemic.
In response to hearing these sentiments from church leaders, an FFM colleague, a Resonate regional rep, and I coordinated and hosted a roundtable discussion for faith formation and discipleship pastors/coordinators/directors, as well as church education champions in Western Canada. The topic: What are the opportunities and challenges for faith formation and discipleship at a time when meeting together in person is not possible? Our goal was not only to create a space for church leaders to share what was on their hearts, but also an occasion for us to listen.
During the one-hour conversation, participants shared how or where they had seen God at work in their churches despite not being able to meet together. They shared the challenges and the opportunities that living in these times has created for them. The conversation generated new thoughts and ideas, and participants encouraged one another.
What struck me most as I listened to the conversation was how quickly the participants, some of whom had never met before, felt a sense of connection and belonging. Knowing that there were others who experienced the same joys and frustrations gave them a sense of relief that they were not alone in their struggles. For a moment at least, things did not feel so burdensome. As one participant wrote to me following the meeting; “It was especially helpful and affirming to realize that I'm not alone with the questions and struggles I have.” It’s my prayer that the others felt the same. I know I did.
Faith Formation Ministries provides congregational faith formation leaders the opportunity to meet in-person or connect digitally or by phone with members of our team and other ministry leaders for coaching and support. Whether it’s a one-time, one-on-one conversation or a long-term peer group, we are here to help. For more information about our regional catalyzer, visit crcna.org/FaithFormation/coaching.