Dean Phelps, Interim Regional Minister
In a time when congregations are restricted from gathering, some pastors have expressed concern around the church’s practice of stewardship. I’ve considered this as well. If we’re not gathering each week for worship, will the giving of our congregation members decline?
First of all, I trust the faithfulness of those who have committed their lives to Christ and their treasure to the ministry of the gospel. Just as God is always faithful, these blessed saints will also be faithful. We may need to be creative, but if we develop our capacity for folks to mail their gifts or to give online, we can make it as easy as possible for people to maintain their stewardship.
While the discipline of stewardship is important, I am more concerned that we maintain the discipline of fellowship. I like the Greek word for it, koinonia. I like the Greek because it also gets translated communion. It implies a meal–whether a potluck or the Lord’s Supper–but it also carries the sense of connection. Koinonia, I think, reflects well our interdependence as members of the body of Christ.
That’s the discipline I want us most to maintain. Growing in faith is not a solo effort. Yes, we are challenged to read and study for ourselves, to draw on our own experiences, to work out our own salvation. Yet, we do that work in community. We live, work, study, and grow together.
We are the body of Christ, even though for the time being we don’t have the coffee hour or the passing of the peace as a means of fellowship. Perhaps, like me, you miss the smile, the handshake, and the heartfelt, “Good morning!” Whether or not we are present with one another, though, these relationships still matter. They may, in fact, be more important now than ever before.
That load is not for the pastor to carry alone. I pray that pastors, elders, and other leaders in the congregation will work together to share information, to check in, and to pray for one another. Just as we seek to flatten the curve when it comes to COVID-19 spread, we can flatten our networks when it comes to sharing information and to offering our care and concern.
Thank you, Kentucky Disciples. I am proud and grateful for how our congregations and church leaders are responding. Together, we’re making a difference. Together, we will get through this.