I can’t remember a more challenging time to be a church leader. We are facing a whole new set of difficult decisions as the current lockdown is rolled back here in Switzerland. We realise the seriousness of the decisions that we are making and that people’s health and ultimately lives depend on making good decisions. None of us have been through anything like this before and so we cant simply look at how the church has responded in the past to get some wisdom for our current situation. However, thinking about what we might learn from Church history made me think about John Wesley.
John Wesley had three simple guiding principles or rules for the first Methodists to guide their decision making as a churches and as disciples. Here they are
- DO NO HARM,
- DO GOOD,
- STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD.
As I said currently, we are facing some complex and difficult decisions about how and when to start our various face to face gatherings and ministries. The Church leadership is looking at the best possible advice from cantonal and federal health bodies and trying to think through the practicalities of resuming meeting again.
As well as being guided by government and various health organisations it struck me that John Wesley’s so called “General Rules” provide a good basis for our guiding our decision making
DO NO HARM
We are going to make sure that what we do as a Church and the way we do it doesn’t endanger people. We believe that one of the fundamental callings of God’s people is to love our neighbour. While the government may give us the freedom to meet again physically as a church are going to make sure that the ways in which we do that doesn’t endanger our church community, their families and the communities we live in.
I have been inspired and so thankful for the way Westlake has reached out to support and care for people during this crisis. I have no idea how we ended up with a culture in which being called a “do gooder” is an insult but I am “proud” that as a community we have so many do gooders doing so much good for so many people. People have reached out to do good in a multitude of ways, from shopping and cooking meals for others, to making encouraging phone calls and having supportive meetings online. We are going to make sure that in informal and organised ways that as a community we are going to keep on doing good to others. We are going to look for ways to keep on living out Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD
It was a steep learning curve for us as a church to go from our familiar ways of meeting and ministering to one another to almost overnight going to new ways of meetings online. I want to thank everyone who has helped us make that transition and embraced that transition. It has taken a lot of patience and hard work.
The goal of that hard work hasn’t just been to keep the church going, its been in Wesley’s words with the aim of helping people “stay in love with Jesus.” It feels like we are still learning to do this. In the weeks to come we are going to have to learn to do a whole new series of things in new ways as we begin to meet together physically in some form but when many of our community will not be able to join us. I want to say that what we will aim to do is not what is easiest but what we think will allow us to best connect with God, meet with God, hear from God, worship God and so stay in love with God.
Can I ask you to pray for the church leadership as they plan for the future and this new transition that whatever we do will, do no harm, do good and help people stay in love with God?