Ministry and Advocacy in Times of Anxiety

If your social media feed is anything like mine, you are noticing that parents and teachers across the country are feeling extremely anxious about school. You are also likely in the midst of trying to assemble some sort of fall programming. It is overwhelming.

Here are several resources, a shift in thinking, a brand new website, and a prayer to support you in this time:

Planning Webinars: This week I am leading two webinars on the topic of planning. One with the Children’s Initiative of the Michigan Annual Conference of the UMC and the other with Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary. Register through the links or watch the recordings after.

Shifting our Thinking: Truthfully, on Friday I thought we had a pretty good plan for fall ministry. On Saturday,  I woke up with a burning question: what is it families need most right now? What if what they need doesn’t look like church school as we know it? Sharon Ely Pearson’s excellent post offers some insights into the shifts we might be making, some of which I named in this series about planning. We are all pretty tired from pivoting. Yet, in this time of uncertainty, God is calling us more deeply into our call to nurture disciples. 

Living into our Values & Growing as Leaders: In times of great uncertainty and anxiety it helps to take a step back and center ourselves in our purpose. I am excited to share that Rev. Kathy Pittenger and Rev. Tanya Campen and I are working on a new resource for faith formation leaders that begins with a short introduction to “starting with why” and two quick templates for writing down your messy first draft. Check out Launch! Today and  join the conversation on Vibrant Faith Catalyst. Each month we will introduce one or two more topics essential for faith formation leaders. 

When in doubt, Maslow before Bloom: This phrase is used by educators to remind us to focus on the developmental needs in Maslow’s hierarchy before launching into the higher order thinking and learning skills ordered in Bloom’s taxonomy. In short, you have to have basic needs met and feel loved & safe before your brain is ready to learn.  I wrote about the need to focus on trauma informed practices and self care before Easter. This focus is still important today.

Become and Advocate: Christian Educators often are focused on what happens inside the church walls. Honestly, that is often all we have time to do. And yet, the families we minister with our facing unprecedented challenges in their communities. How can we partner with schools and community groups to care for children and teachers in this worrisome time? As it happens, the Children’s Defense Fund Proctor Institute is free and online starting next week.  I have attended this powerful in person experience in years past. Register today and learn more about how God is calling us to care for vulnerable children.

I will end with a prayer adapted from Sheltered at Home: Family Prayers for Living and Loving. If you have a prayer request, please place it in the comments. 

Gracious God, I am exhausted! Sometimes I feel like I’m failing at ministry. I feel like I don’t have enough time for my family. Money is tight.  I am worried about people I love. So many things are out of my control. This is so hard.

God, remind me that my feelings are normal. Remind me that by your grace there is a way through this pandemic.  Help me to do one thing at a time. Help me to let go of perfection. Give me curiosity. Give me trusted colleagues. Give me strength, give me patience, give me hope, to prepare for the year ahead.

You might also be interested in:

A Glimpse: What Fall Ministry Might Look Like

What to Be Curious About Part I: The Shape of the Plan

Part II: Adaptive Leadership

Part III: Family Centered Faith Formation

Part IV: Design Thinking and Startup Mindset

What to be curious about one page .pdf resource. (subscribers, please check your email)

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