This post was written by Sharon Rundell, a member of the INCM Blog team.
Before the shutdown in March of 2020, I had been a Family Life Director at two different churches for over ten years. I lead in a large suburban church for a number of years, and more recently had taken a position at a church in the heart of Minneapolis. Suburban ministry, got it. Urban ministry, got it. Then COVID-19 hit. Everything I thought I knew was changed in what felt like an instant. I’ve done lots of learning, pivoting, and rethinking ministry in this season.
It is now time to launch into the next season of ministry for the Fall. As I’ve been prayerfully and carefully walking towards this next step this is what I’ve learned.
Approaching Leadership in This Season With an Open Posture
What once worked, might not necessarily be best practices in the new season God is calling us to. Our ways of interacting have definitely changed! This leaves me wondering: How do I approach this new perspective with a posture of openness, looking at things realistically, and hopefully?
- First, I am literally adopting a physically open posture. I find myself tensed up even clenching my jaw at various times of the day and night. I’m trying to be aware of this, practice deep breathing, and relaxing my body into an open posture. My physical body is thanking me for this every day.
- I open my hands’ palms up to Jesus all throughout the day, whispering a prayer to Jesus giving my cares and worries back to him. I’ve found so much peace in this, but even more amazing I’ve watched my posture of openness and prayer turn into a real testimony that God sees and hears me. I’ve seen His miraculous answers to prayer recently, and they are so clearly from Him and not of my doing. This posture has made me more spiritually aware of God’s presence and movement.
- I’ve started considering the things I’m implementing as “experiments”. As I adopt this language it allows me to feel less pressure to make it work no matter what. Some things we are going to try are going to be amazing and others will flop. That’s okay! If it’s considered an experiment, I keep what works and learn from what doesn’t.
I have found that approaching leadership in this season with an open posture has been beneficial to all areas of my ministry: physical, mental, and spiritual!
Approaching Leadership in This Season Through the Lens of a New Church Plant
When processing how to approach ministry in the fall, I’ve been trying to take a step back looking at it from the perspective of a drone hovering over our meeting site. I am having to rethink my team, how family ministry works, and all of our processes as if we are a brand new church plant. I’ve come to realize that families have been away from us for long stretches of time now, they are coming into our ministry and it feels brand new. Spaces and the way they have been organized have changed, others of us who meet in schools or public spaces have had to find entire new venues.
Approaching ministry in this season as a new church plant gives me a clear path for my thought process and also how I communicate to families about what to expect. What worked well in the past isn’t going to work the same way now. I am looking at what can I take that was a success in the past and reimagine those things into something new and possibly better in our current COVID-19 social distancing reality. I am treating every family (even the ones I know well) as if they are first time guests.
- Take time to reconnect and catch up with the parents as well as the kids. Get on their level helping them feel seen, heard, and loved.
- Show off your space and explain how your processes have changed, all for the safety and care of your families, volunteers, and team members.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Even though you sent out that amazing informative email and printed these glossy handouts, parents are suffering from information overload. Sometimes it just takes repeating and continued communication to make sure everyone knows what is going on.
What does this change in my mindset to think of this season as not a disastrous interruption – but instead as if God were leading us out of the wilderness that was before, through a forced time of rest and into something new and beautiful? My goal is to help families experience returning to a live worship service as comfortable and familiar as possible, while keeping them safe and healthy! I am aware that families will join us on their own timeline, when they feel most comfortable to step back into in person to person contact. Treating this season as if we are a brand new church plant offers families the mindset that they are allowed to be “new” as well.
I know that in the next few months I will be asking lots of questions, relearning what each family needs, and allowing our family ministry team to show our community that we are approaching all of this with an open posture. We all know that in children’s ministry as leaders we exhibit the behavior we want to be mimicked and repeated. So, let’s do this, fellow leaders! We can show them a balance of an open posture as well as thinking through the lens of a new church plan all while allowing God to show us what he sees for our church’s future. Deep breath. On your marks, get set, go! I’m praying for you all as we each step into our new calling this fall.
Sharon is the Family Life Director at Mill City Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spends her days ministering to children, leading adult discipleship groups, as well as public speaking at adults and children’s events. She and her husband Andrew will celebrate thirty years of marriage in December, and they are the proud parents of three emerging adult sons who still keep them on their toes!