COVID and Council: The Conversation You’re Dreading Is the Opportunity the World Is Waiting For

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Along with ministry leaders across the US and Canada, I’ve been grateful for the tremendous resources being published intended to help churches navigate the difficult logistics of returning to physical gatherings. That information is invaluable as councils meet to discuss all the many options before them. 

But more and better information is not the only thing a council needs to make a good decision. This is especially true when sources of information and the narratives around our situation are deeply contested. Especially in the United States, but also in Canada, it is a cliche to observe that viewers of different cable networks and readers of different news feeds have widely different assumptions about the nature, severity and appropriate response to this pandemic. 

In any given church council room, there will likely be some who are very cautious, maybe even paralyzed by their fear of the virus, and others who think this whole pandemic response is overblown. Making decisions about physical gatherings with such differences in the room is something a lot of leaders are dreading right now. 

But what if there were ways to have better conversations? What if there were practices that helped orient us not toward “proving I’m right” or “winning the argument” but toward the primary goals of loving God, each other and neighbor well, while also making wise and creative decisions? What if the very way we approached this conversation provided a witness to our polarized world of how the power of God in the church is greater than the powers of division all around us? 

On May 20, Pastor Church Resources convened a panel of Christian Reformed pastors and lay-leaders to talk not about the logistics of reopening but about the practices and postures that help congregations engage challenging conversations in hopeful ways. 

Are there ways to hold both our strong convictions (truth) and our love for each other (grace) together? Leaning on their years of experience leading congregations, the panel explores how the resources of our faith equip us for just this challenge. The frameworks most frequently mentioned in the panel are Restorative Practices, Restorative Questions and The Colossian Way

Watch the panel below! 

The panel included: 

  • Stan Baker (Member, former Elder and Chairperson of Hope Fellowship CRC, Courtice, ON)
  • Rev. Heidi DeJonge (Pastor, Westside Fellowship CRC, Kingston, ON)
  • Rev. Chris DeVos (The Colossian Forum, Pandemic Response Team, Pillar Church, Holland, MI) 
  • Rev. Michael Gulker (President of The Colossian Forum, also attends Calvary CRC, Wyoming, MI) 
  • Rev. Sean Baker (Pastor Church Resources, Christian Reformed Church in North America)

COVID Conversations and Your Church Council

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I appreciated this panel conversation very much. I was convicted with the truth of how easy it is to spend more time meditating on the words of my news feeds rather than on the Word of God which leads to the malformation of my soul. The comments on the present polarization and judgment that characterizes so much conversation and division over COVID-19 were timely. Thank you for the practical hope offered at the end!