It is a chaotic time in our world. Every routine has been upended. Most of the ways we have connected and cared for the young people in our church have been put temporarily on pause. I have been so encouraged by the professional and lay youth workers who have found new and wonderful ways to connect with the teens in our church and community. It’s a joy to see people share gifts, skills, and new ideas with the body of Christ in this difficult time.
But ministry (and life) in this moment is hard. Everyone is struggling to find their footing. Parents are overwhelmed with new responsibilities of teaching. Workers are transitioning home, working long hours or even struggling with unemployment. We are dazed by a huge influx of information, and worried about how much toilet paper we have. The celebrations and times together we hoped and planned for are postponed. In this moment, creativity and innovation can seem like impossibilities.
If you are overwhelmed, you are not alone.
And if you are like me, when you are overwhelmed you watch funny videos on social media.
Two of the favorite videos I’ve seen since the call for us to stay at home were both of clergymen, one in Italy, the other in Virginia. They were clearly in full vestments, very diligently sharing God’s Word with their congregants. Yet, both had accidentally activated the filters function on their phones. One gave himself a variety of wacky headgear, including punching boxing arms. The other had comedic googly eyes anytime he approached the camera. While this might be a nightmare your pastor has had in the last few weeks, it reminds us of something much more important.
Isaiah 55:9-11 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’”
God’s Word doesn’t return to Him empty. It accomplishes the thing for which God sent it. God’s Word is living and active. The Holy Spirit works in and through Scripture to call, gather, and enlighten us, even when we cannot be physically together. Even when our filters give us googly eyes.
We can trust in this when we feel as though we are letting our young people and their families down. Yes, it is important to encourage and provide opportunity for people to be in God’s Word, especially in these unsettling times. But we may be tempted to believe that God is depending on us right now, not the other way around.
What you are doing in ministry is enough. God doesn’t need you to accomplish His good work. He already did it all for us on the cross. Instead, God will use you in whatever you do to love and care for the teens and families in your congregation. God isn’t asking you to replicate everything from your regular, in-person ministry right now or to exhaust yourself trying to meet every single need. Instead, He has asked you to do what you can to care for those in your congregation and community.
If right now you are pausing programming and encouraging families to pray and read God’s Word together (even if you are unsure if they will follow through), God will use that.
If you see all sorts of tech savvy folks producing incredible content, but all you can do is share other people’s Scripture posts and upload poorly lit, slightly shaky online devotions, God will use that.
If you can provide at home activities and regular digital meetings for your youth ministry, God will use that.
If all your ministry of presence is just a lot of text messages and playing games with stressed out kids, God will use that.
If you are muddling through but you can get to God’s Word daily and lift your young people and families up in prayer, God is listening and will work through His Word.
If you can’t manage much of anything, God will continue to be faithful and fulfill His promises to you. Reach out to those who can love and serve you in this time.
Right now, one of the unfortunately filtered videos has been seen more than 7 million times. This might not have exactly been the faithful Christian content we wanted to go viral, but God is going to use it. In small and profound ways, God is going to do what He promised and work through His Word. What we do in ministry right now is God at work in us and that is enough.
God will continue to be faithful and fulfill His promises to us. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Jesus’ death and resurrection will stand, and we can proclaim it even in these difficult times. Every time we do, God is working through us to encourage, enlighten, and draw people closer to Him.
Julianna, my mind read the title wrong. It read “Are you doing enough,” instead of “you are doing enough.” So I started to read the article as a judgement on myself. I expected it to be a list of things that I should be doing and more so a list of things that I’m not doing as pastor for our congregation or in the way that I’m communicating with our youth or our DCE. I read the article expecting either a list to give me ideas, or a list of how many ways I have been failing the pandemic. But as I read, the Lord used your words to lift a burden that I have been carrying alone, and I can breath again. Breath in the Lord’s love and his strength. His direction and guidance. I don’t have to do everything, I just have to do what the Lord has given me to do. No matter what, He is doing the Work, and that takes a LOT of pressure off of me.
Thank you for allowing God’s Words to come through you computer.
Thank you Julianna – thank you for your insight and support. I will be sharing your words with fellow servants!
Hi Julianna I will try again, have no idea what happen to my first message. “You did it again you said/wrote what many of us wanted to write/say and are not able to do. You said what we think, thank you. May God continue to bless you with your abilities to guide and help the young people as well as the seniors.
I think of you often and thank God that the youth and the congregation of St.Paul Norwood Park, IL were blessed with you. God Bless You and Keep You Within His Loving Care. In Christian Love, Louise Bultman – St. Paul Norwood Park, IL