I haven’t written anything in 75 days. Not because I’ve been lazy or didn’t have anything to say. I’ve been going through a different pandemic than many.
Being the solo-pastor of a small church, when our services were forced online, that pretty much left me to figure out how to make that happen. I knew that it was important to several in our church to do a live service. And seeing our people interacting with one another on Facebook was a great thing during this time. (Ironically, 2 weeks before the lockdown I told our people we were going to stop streaming our services on Facebook. Ha!)
Since we’re a small church, we haven’t invested much (actually nothing) in the way of technology in several years. The live streaming we had been doing was one stationary camera and someone might try to work on the audio mix if they had time.
This last Sunday we had our 12th online service. And no, we still don’t have the bugs worked out. In fact, this made the 2nd week in a row my computer crashed before the service (and it’s a new computer!).
My weeks haven’t been my own since this started. Most of my time at the church building has been spent solving tech issues from the previous week or getting ready for the next live stream. Leaving most of my sermon and service preparation for my days off at home.
To be honest, I’ve been kind of jealous of many who have been able to stay home a lot during this time. I know that’s been hard on so many too, but I’ve really longed for that kind of a break. A forced break to just binge watch shows and put together puzzles.
Leading a small church is challenging in a normal season. Comparison is so prevalent in our world today and pastors and churches aren’t immune to the comparison game. I’ve been feeling the pressure of comparison for years, but perhaps never more than in the past 3 months. I was reading about a piece of gear that would really make streaming a live service so much simpler that a much larger church uses. The price of this one item was more than our entire A/V system for the whole church. Yeah, that’s not happening.
Then there’s all the other stuff of being a pastor. How do you care for people you can’t see face to face? How do you stay in touch with people who are adverse to technology? I saw someone last week I hadn’t seen or heard from in months. Wanting to help people grow in their faith but not really having a good idea about how to accomplish that virtually.
Not to mention the fact that our internet at home is rather insufficient for video. I saw one story about people like us who don’t have access to good, high-speed internet. We pay about 4 times the cost for about 1 tenth of the service most get. Then trying to figure out how to do music remotely, staying up until 2am to mixdown a worship song, lead choir practices over zoom, having parents get mad at you because they can’t find the link to the zoom meeting.
But, we’re getting there. We now have synchronization between audio and video now, so that helps. 🙂 It’s been a lot of problem solving. We’ve come a long way in a pretty short period of time. There’s a lot more I would love to do (in case anyone has a spare 100k sitting around they want to donate to a small church), but we’re getting there.
I finally got our garden in at home this week. Not too far behind schedule. Got caught up on mowing last week too. Even spent some time with my wife for our 17th anniversary this weekend.
I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not trying to make myself out to be a hero. There are real heroes who have worked and given a lot more during this crisis. I’m not putting down or minimizing the experience of anyone who was locked in their house this whole time. I know that was hard too. (That was my wife’s story for the Coronavirus Crisis.
So, what is my point? Oh, I don’t know. Didn’t really have one when I started writing. I really just wanted to write something so I could get my mind working that way again.
But since you asked, we’ve all been going through something that will be written about and dissected for the next couple of decades. Some of us have visible scars, others emotional scars. Some of us have soft-skinned hands that are ready to get busy again. Others have calluses that may never go away.
We’re kind of like the Marvel universe. All these different stories going on at the same time, but one big overarching story uniting us all. It ended up working out for the good in the marvel universe. How this all pans out in the end for us is up to us.
Of course God has written the overarching story and we know He wins in the end. But, how we respond and react to this time, how we tell our story, how we move forward is as much up to us as it is anyone else.
Aside from my wife and kids, only a few people really know the time this season has consumed from my life. Truly, only my wife and kids really know. Others know in part, but not the whole. It would be easy for you to look at our church Facebook page and say, “there’s not much to see here” and by comparison, you’d be right. And, in some ways, it’s true. There’s a lot you don’t see there. You never will. But if you tried to judge my efficacy as a pastor based on what you saw there, I’m certain I wouldn’t measure up. If you judge me by my writing for this season, again I’d be a failure.
But there’s a lot I’ve had to do that you’ll never see. The same is true for you. There’s a lot you’ve had to figure out, a lot you’ve gone through, a lot you’re wrestling with that I’ll never see. That’s because even though we’ve all gone through the same pandemic, we haven’t all gone through the same story.
Maybe if we can all see that there is a lot of behind the scenes going on in everyone’s life right now, we might be able to find a little more grace for one another.
That’s a small taste of my Covid-19 story. (I have a lot more to say, but I’m trying to get home ontime for the first time in months.)That’s my story, what’s yours?