COVID-19 / peer learning groups

Pandemic gleanings

By Laura Stephens-Reed

Two-plus months into doing all the things at home—working, parenting, recreating—every part of me is weary. As an introvert, I need regular time inside a bubble that popped long ago. I know that extroverts are struggling in different ways, unable to be in places and around people that give them energy.

If focusing on the next right thing is where you are, I get it. And I applaud your self-awareness and attention to your functioning.

But if you’re able to carve out a sliver of brain space for reflection, I urge you to seize the opportunity. There are valuable takeaways ripe for the picking in this pandemic. Below are some questions to jump-start your mulling.

For ministers:

What am I learning about my gifts and strengths?

What am I learning about my personal needs in order to thrive?

What am I learning about my purpose in ministry?

For ministers and their congregations:

What are my church and I learning about what it means to be the church, not just go to church?

What are my church and I learning about areas in which we are creative and resilient?

What are my church and I learning about areas in which we are vulnerable?

What are my church and I learning about pandemic practices we can continue or build upon once we can gather in person?

What are my church and I learning about “ways we’ve always done things” that have turned out not to be so essential after all?

Where are my church and I seeing God at work?

How might we join God in that work?

It might be too much to tackle all of these reflection points at once. It’s okay to address one or two at a time, whether in conversation with others or through journaling or prayer. And again, if you’re just trying to get from one moment to the next without tearing your hair out, major discernment can go on the back burner. Please, though, if making it through your days seems like too much, reach out to a person you trust, a service provider, or an organization that offers financial relief—depending on the shape of your need—for help.

Laura Stephens-Reed is Peer Learning Group Regional Director for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. She also serves as a clergy coach and congregational consultant.

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