Yes, it’s been a year. One year ago this past week the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. York College decided all classes should be held online instead of in the classroom. It was a year ago that the entire East Hill congregation met together for the last time. We went online for a while, then went to two services.
Few people could have foreseen the devastation and disruption the coronavirus would cause. Few people would have imagined that we’d still be dealing with its effects a year later. But I have to wonder—what have we learned? Are we hoping to “return to normal” as if nothing had happened, or are there some lessons we can take away from this past year? Let me share two truths that have been reinforced for me over the past year.
1) Technology can be a blessing—and a curse.
Most of us have spent countless hours online this past year. Zoom meetings, Google Meet, Facebook Live have become newly acquired skills for many of us. Many participate in worship services and Bible classes online. Many more have regular conversations with family and friends whom we cannot see in person.
While that cannot take the place of face-to-face conversations, imagine what life would have been like without this technology available. Technology has allowed us to stay in contact with others while still maintaining physical distance. It has allowed us to maintain some sense of community, even when we are not meeting together as an entire congregation.
However, technology has also allowed lies, misinformation and conspiracy theories to spread at an unprecedented rate. It has helped to create an environment that is toxic, and has led to greater polarization between friends, family, and between brothers and sisters in Christ.
Every technology has both positive and negative uses. The internet and social media can be used for good or ill. It takes honesty, integrity, and good will for technology in general, and social media in particular, to have positive benefits.
2) Church is not about activities—it’s about people.
The church calendar has been pretty sparse over the past year. No mission trips, no youth rally, no potlucks. For a while we had no in-person worship services or Bible classes.
And yet the church did not stop existing. People still studied the Bible with each other, prayed for each other, cared for each other. Encouragement cards were sent. Phone calls were made.
Do I miss all the activities? Of course I do. But church is about so much more than what happens in this building for an hour or two each week. Church is about the daily conversations about Jesus, the little acts of service done in his name. This is where the real work of ministry is done.
So as we move forward, let’s learn from our experience this past year, and allow this experience to make us a better, healthier congregation.
~ Terry Seufferlein