Normally, we would be deep in preparation for our stewardship season, culminating in our church family Thanksgiving feast in the gym.
But 2020 has not been normal. This year has been unlike any that any of us have ever experienced. Everything normal got upended. Some of those ways and practices will not be coming back. They got replaced by new ways of being and doing, some of which are going to be permanent changes in our lives.
That holds true even in very traditional pieces of our lives, such as stewardship within our church. Normally, we would be inviting for full participation financially to support our ministries, programs, missions, and regular operations. But this year, stewardship means something different. Stewardship means adapting, adjusting, and reorienting ourselves as a church to meet the changed world all around us.
That means each of us considering how we participate in church. Some folks have found that online worship really is the most profound and spiritual experience of being with God they have. They can be completely themselves at home, opening themselves to the presence of God in new ways. Others have found that they really need the physical presence of others to make the presence of God tangible—they missed being together, and now are praying we can stay together in our pandemic world. Some have found meetings on ZOOM are the most efficient, practical, and, yes, enjoyable way to conduct committee work so necessary to church life. It’s nice to go to a meeting without leaving home, eliminating the need to adjust schedules and driving to and from the meeting. Classes have experienced new ways of learning online and the fascinating interaction of a group in virtual space.
That means intentionally working to keep mission alive and well. Mission trips got put on hold, but the need to respond to folks hungering for help has not. We are discovering new ways of reaching out, interacting with the world, and making a difference.
That means reconsidering how we do work with our youngest members. How do we do youth ministry with limited face to face contact? How do we meet the needs of children in a world that will mark them for years to come? This will be their existential moment that will define them as a generation. How are we assuring them of God’s presence and guidance?
I could go on and on.
But you begin to see the need for stewardship. All of the above experiences require resources—human, monetary, material. We need one another. We need each other’s help. We need each other’s support. We need each other’s vision.
So, of course, stewardship in 2020 is going to be unlike anything we have ever seen. Of course it is. But maybe God is opening whole new vistas before us.
I believe so.