Unpack Your Bags
Last week, the directional elders at the church where I serve made the difficult decision to remain online for the remainder of this year. (In full disclosure, I am a part of a small task force of staff members who studied options, provided potential timelines based on local, state, and government guidelines, and ultimately recommended this decision to the directional elders.)
In an online members meeting, our pastor laid out this challenge: unpack your bags. To paraphrase:
Imagine your family has had to relocate to a hotel because your house is suddenly uninhabitable (think burst pipe, gas leak, etc.). For the first few days, you are waiting on the inevitable phone call from the contractor to give you the “all clear,” so you’re still rummaging through your suitcase, shuffling around clothing, knowing that it’s only a matter of moments before you get the call to go back home.
And then the call comes. But it’s not the call you want. The contractor tells you about “unforeseen delays,” and at minimum, you won’t be able to get back in your house for several more weeks.
And while it’s not the message you wanted, it’s the message you got. So, armed with a specific timeframe, you decide to unpack your bags. Your t-shirts go in the hotel drawers, your pants hang in the hotel closet, and your toiletries get laid out on the hotel sink.
It’s not the normal you want, but it’s the normal you have. So you make the most of it.
That’s where we are right now. Was this a popular decision? It depends on who you ask. Like a lot of churches, our congregational surveys show three primary opinions on reopening. So yeah: some people applauded the decision. Some hated the decision. Some still might be trying to figure out exactly how the feel about the decision. (And for the record, as one of the team members who made the recommendation, which category I land in depends on what time of day you ask me.)
That was the world’s longest setup to a relatively short blog post. Here’s my question for you: is it time to unpack your bags?
Maybe you’re already meeting in person, but you don’t feel safe about opening kids environments for a while. Should you just unpack those bags and make this “new normal” your normal?
Maybe you’re meeting in person, but 2/3 of your congregation have yet to return. You don’t think that online viewing is the best way to go, but should you unpack your bags and make it the very best you can?
Maybe your ministry opportunities in the community have come to a screeching halt because ministry partners are skittish about exposure and transmission. Should you unpack your bags and figure out brand new, innovative ways to care for your community?
This new normal is our normal for the foreseeable future. Is it time to go beyond begrudgingly accepting it, and actually embrace it for the sake of the kingdom?