MIDLAND, MI – These are strange times to say the least, but they are not unprecedented. History has seen instances of plague and pestilence, and the church of Jesus Christ has survived them all. What is unprecedented, however, is the technology that is available to us, and how that technology can be leveraged to the benefit of the church in times of separation and confinement.
What likely comes to mind when most think of the technology available to the church is probably live streaming software, social media, and other multimedia, but at Sunrise Church, we’re finding that the most appreciated technology is really just a good old fashioned phone call. While email and text messages are useful for accumulating information about needs and other informational updates, and video conferencing provides the visual face to face component, when it comes to connecting personally with our church family, each falls short in one way or another. Texting fails to communicate the mood or tone of whom you’re chatting with, and video conferencing can be cumbersome; requiring setup, planning and software downloads. Phone calls, however, are proving to be the best substitute for the usual face to face interactions that our church gatherings provide.
The Elders of Sunrise are learning that our people are really appreciative of the effort to contact them by phone to check on them, pray with them, understand their needs and fears, and simply give them an opportunity to engage in conversation. A phone call requires the same kind of attention as an in-person conversation, takes time and deliberation, and can’t be multitasked. Across the board, each of our elders has noted the appreciation expressed by members of their shepherding group when contacted by phone.
Email, texting, and video conferencing have certainly proven to be effective efficiency tools for our leadership as we are constantly responding to and disseminating changing information, but efficiency isn’t really the goal of the shepherd(s) to his/their flock. It is tempting to utilize these tools with the congregation, and they may make sense in the right application or context, but elders and pastors may want to consider the message of caring that is sent to a member of the church when the time is taken to call them on the phone, and give them personalized attention in this culture of social distancing.
Though our church is scattered for now, it is our desire that regular, personal contact during this season will maintain and strengthen the bonds of our church body and build anticipation for the day when we will be gathered together again. Regardless of the medium by which we seek to maintain our connectedness, may we be faithful to Paul’s instruction,
“Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:14-15 (CSB)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Miles has served in nearly every facet of local church ministry over the last twenty years from Florida to Washington and Texas to Michigan. He married Kari in 1999 and they have four kiddos; two biological (Gavin, 17 and Griffin, 6) and two adopted (Gunner, 15 and Mayleigh, 7). Philip has been privileged to serve since 2018 with a wonderful team of fellow Elders at Sunrise Church in Midland, MI and is currently the Lead Pastor there.