Earlier this week I had the chance to participate in the ELCA Larger Church gathering. Because of COVID-19 this gathering, like so many others, had to move online. While no doubt disappointing to the organizers (including NT-NL’s own Rev. Paul Mussachio, Preston Meadow, Plano) this move online enabled many others, including myself, to gain insights from speaker Carey Nieuwhof. Nieuwhof spoke at length about leading in crisis and in this particular crisis. I appreciated his insights particularly as my academic interest, and dissertation, was written about adaptive leadership in crisis. In a recent blogpost he speaks a challenging word to us as church looking beyond the current crisis. How are we preparing for the future and are we being honest that the world is changing right now? Assuming we will go back to “normal” in a few weeks, months, or even a year+ is no longer an option, the world has and will continue to adapt as must our leadership.
One of the core messages Nieuwhof presented was the need in crisis to lead pro-actively and not re-actively. To face the reality of crisis, be realistic in our assessment, and also look towards the future. For Lutherans this resonates well with theological language of Law and Gospel. We face the truth of the situation (the Law) but live into the hope of future because we know the future is God (the Gospel).
We are in the midst of a crisis that continues to challenge and change us. As I noted in my Monday May 4th message the situation changes daily and we must be prepared to respond to these conditions. We also must prepare for and live into the future. This is an excellent and important time for us as church to assess our role in society, who are we, how are our vocations expanding, and ultimately what Word do we have to speak to this world. As synod, part of our role is to resource you for this work and walk with you and your community in this time. Some of these resources available to you now for a variety of needs are below…
- LEAD Journey: We have 3 openings for NT-NL congregations to engage the LEAD Journey (waytolead.org) at no financial cost to the congregation. This is a great time to think strategically about your communities future and LEAD can help you. If interested contact BpGronberg@ntnl.org by May 11th.
- NT-NL Coaching: We have coaches available for you and your community. https://www.ntnl.org/ministries/coaching/
- Online webinars for trainings. Including our Online Grief Coaching webinar with over 90 participants from across our church on May 5 and we are working on making a recording available.
- Ongoing Events at Briarwood including Fall Leadership Convocation on Religious Freedom October 15-17 and blogs and resources from Dr. Robert Smith including his provocative statements about societal chaplaincy and the expanding role and vocation of the church.
- NT-NL Parish Lay Ministry Academy and the Secondary School of Theological Education.
- NT-NL Stewardship Team: This team, led by DEM Irma Banales offers a number of resources for you.
- ELCA relationship with Tithe.ly offers discounts and opportunities to get congregational giving online and Portico, our benefit services walks with you.
- Advice and Counsel about the Payroll Protection Program as well as ways to partner with the ELCA Credit Union.
- NT-NL MEF Emergency Good Faith Loan Program. https://www.ntnl.org/ministries/mef/
- Coming Back Together Guidelines and Communications in English and Spanish.
- Resources for moving online and improving online offerings are available on our COVID-19 NT-NL page including webinars.
- ELCA Resources for Worship in the time of COVID-19
- Guidelines for volunteers and others participating in video worship services for the first time.
- A list of congregations offering online worship for those who do not have the capability. Worship with our NT-NL congregations!
Children, Youth, and Family Ministry
- The 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering is still on schedule and we plan in hope. May 12th and 14th there will be Zoom meetings for information. Please watch this video for information.
- Briarwood is offering a 25% discount on Summer Camp pricing for overnight and day camp modules. If camp can be safely held they will be ready.
- NT-NL Young Adults is a new initiative in partnership between King of Glory, Dallas’ young adult coordinator Veronica Czutor and Briarwood.
- Watch Briarwood’s Community Engagement Coordinator Avery Hawley on Sundays as she does a “walk through the gospel.” This sort of planning and preparation is helpful in the possibility that summer camp ministry also will be an online experience as well as future resources for NT-NL congregations and beyond.
- Our NT-NL Youth Ministry Facebook page is a great resource for connecting online as is the website for peer ministry, youth events and other opportunities.
As I reflected almost two months ago we are living in a generational moment. The COVID-19 crisis is challenging assumptions and changing our way of life in ways we cannot even begin to understand fully. With that comes grief and loss. We must acknowledge and be honest about that. It also brings opportunity for new connections, adaptive leadership, and faithful ministry. You have been thrust into a new world and I have been impressed and amazed by the way you have responded. I urge you to remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. But do not neglect the work of looking forward now. To prepare for the reality that online experiences of community are no longer “virtual.” They are real and important and valid.
God’s people have been thrust into crisis time and again and God is and always will be faithful. God’s living Word Jesus Christ, the Word that spoke creation into being, is the Word we proclaim when we declare the forgiveness of sins. The power of sin, of the law, of death, has no power over us anymore. So you and I can look honestly at God’s world and speak a word of hope and promise. How we will do that is changing quickly. I pray and trust the Holy Spirit will continue to enliven and encourage you as we do this work.