Originally written for Shepherd of the Ridge Lutheran Church, apply these ideas to your local context.
We’re busy, no question about it. Schools don’t respect Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings for church time, so not only might you sometimes have trouble getting here for a service, but forget about any other activities without some major restructuring of the schedule! When we came to North Ridgeville, we were looking forward to making friends and geting together, and while we’ve made friends, we’ve been so busy between work and our kids that we just haven’t had time for anything social, and I know we’re not alone in that.
Beyond just meetings, we’re not a business–we’re a family. We love each other and want to stay in touch with each other. When someone hurts, as strange as it may sound, we want to share that hurt, not just in sympathy, but so we can be praying for and encouraging each other. And as a family, we also benefit from being in God’s Word together!
So while there’s no substitute for being together and meeting face-to-face, because that’s just not possible, I’d like to propose an experiment to build each other up in the common bond we share.
On our website, I’d like to begin an online Bible Study. Genesis has a lot to talk about, so we’ll start there. (Good place to start: “In the beginning,” huh?) Each week, I’ll post a short reading, probably just a few verses, some comments or background information, and a couple open-ended questions, like, “Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?” or something like that. Then you can leave comments and ask further questions. This way, anyone with internet access (if you don’t have a computer and are interested, the library does) can join in.
I’d appreciate your feedback on this idea. Does this sound like something you’d like to try? Should we make this a private members-only study, or should we use this as an outreach and allow guests around our community and world to join in the conversation? Would you like other groups on the site set up, like a parenting group (what to say when kids ask tough questions, where to find various resources, or even good places to go on the weekend for fun) or some other topic?
The toughest part of a project like this is getting the ball rolling. Once people get involved in the conversation, the project generally keeps pretty good momentum, but people tend to be afraid of being the first to comment, so I’d appreciate, if we begin this project, a few bold people being bold about commenting. Note that comments don’t need to be insightful or brilliant–this is all about relationships, not impressing people.
Again, this is not a replacement for seeing each other face-to-face. When someone is hurting, they will likely appreciate a personal visit from more than just the pastor. We still have phones to call each other and check in. We still need to work together to meet the needs of the community. And we still need to join our voices as we worship “with…all the company of heaven.”
I look forward to your feedback and covet your ideas.