The other day I wrote about SETTLING INTO A NEW ROUTINE. I wrote about how this time has birthed in me a new attention: towards prayer, towards writing, towards art and towards taking care of the Vicarage.
I didn’t write about how this “settling in” has affected the work of ministry. That was intentional. The effect this pandemic has had upon who I am as a minister and what I do as a minister is so profound I do not think I can fit it into one post. I thought it would be wrong to try and squeeze it in, as a line item, along with those other things.
I imagine most ministers have been doing a lot of work using Facebook and e-mail and phone calling. I certainly have. Just today I have started three new conversations on Facebook with men in my congregation.
I have also increased communication with folks who do not come to the church. One of my friends who I have been writing back and forth with summed up what I have been feeling beautifully.
She writes: “One aspect of these times that I’m enjoying is reclaiming my instincts and inclinations as an introvert. After all those years of being out there working at the edge of so many things, it feels comfortable and even familiar to pull back, be quiet (at least my mind and voice) .. and follow the lead of my body as it takes me to the garden, weeding, walking the dog, fixing food, etc.”
I have been working as a minister in my town since 1991. Like my friend I feel like all these years I have been “working at the edge of so many things”. I don’t regret one bit of it. Pastoring has been a wonderful life and will continue to be as I move into the future. But I am so enjoying this radical new discovery which I think I have to call introverted pastoring.
I love and miss my church family. I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but since we have been praying for authenticity, transparency and vulnerability in our church for months here goes nothin’. What I do not miss is the parade of events that was the church before Covid-19. I am loving having one on one meetings via Zoom or Facebook Live, in which I can simply relate to people without the pressure of having to do business or plan an event. I am really loving having days-long and even weeks-long theological conversations by letter (or messenger) with congregants. I have loved grocery shopping for elderly people in the congregation. I have enjoyed having the time and energy to study the Bible without having to rush through in order to prepare for the rest of the week’s events.
While many of my extroverted congregants and colleagues descry the loss of community, I feel as though I have found a new level of community which is profound, deep and rich, because it is not based around large scale social events but around individual connections.
When we finally get to be back together, I am determined to change how I pastor, no matter what the cost, to reflect this new model of introverted pastoring. I do not know yet what all the changes will look like. I know it will involve saying yes on a permanent level to a more quiet lifestyle, but how that susses out, well, that is all part of the quiet adventure I am on.