The Commissional Corner: Ministry Reimagined

Commissional Corner

Ministry Outside the Box

In the MAGL program, we are accustomed to interacting and creating meaningful relationships in person. However, the Lord decided to challenge us to remember His steadfast love as we strive to remain consistent in our ministry. This year, we experienced the reality of virtual ministry. Although there are still a few kinks to work out, we are thankful for all of the good that God has done in the midst of COVID-19. We asked MAGL professor Dr. Mark Alexander how this particular season has impacted ministry inside and outside of his classroom:

How has COVID-19 forced us to reimagine ministry?

I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly many congregations have made the transition of their services and Bible studies to a variety of media platforms. One of the challenges that I see, however, is one-on-one ministry. We have been able to reimagine how to deliver some of our programs, but we are still working on how to minister individually.

How have you been able to motivate students to pursue ministry in an unexpected socially-distanced environment?

One of the things that has been said is that every crisis also presents an opportunity. I pray that we can encourage each other not to retreat and isolate socially during this time when we are having to practice physical distancing. If you are a student, a digital native, serve the Lord by making your media presence an opportunity for ministry, encouraging and serving others, especially providing your church with ideas on how to reach out to the community to build relationships.

What have you done in your church community to effectively adapt in the midst of COVID-19?

In addition to livestreaming the services and conducting Bible studies via Zoom, our church has conducted a number of drive-through events. Many of the activities for children and youth this summer were programed in this manner. This allowed for folks to get out of the house, participate in a different kind of VBS, or youth activity, but still be able to remain in a vehicle and maintain a safe distance from others.

How have you encouraged students to be adaptable beyond the original structure of ministry?

Think outside the box. One of the concepts that we talk about in cross-cultural ministry is Cultural Intelligence, what David Livermore defines as "the ability to effectively reach across the chasm of cultural differences in ways that are loving and respectful." The current crisis has placed us in a new cultural context where many things are unfamiliar, but our mission has not changed; therefore, ask for God's help, and allow Him to empower you with a new vision of how to serve at this time and in this place.

What positive adaptation of ministry has come to fruition during this unexpected time?

The Hispanic group in our congregation has usually met in a separate part of the facilities; however, as a result of the crisis, a significant change is taking place. When we started having services again, it didn't seem like good stewardship to duplicate effort in terms of equipping multiple spaces where we could effectively observe physical distancing guidelines and have the media equipment needed for livestreaming. As a result, the Hispanic group has transitioned to the main sanctuary. This seemingly small action is making a significant impact. Our church family views itself more and mores as one congregation, and our message to the community is that we are a multicultural congregation that doesn't relegate some to the "old" facilities.

Written by The Graduate School of Ministry

The Graduate School of Ministry provides training for individuals who sense God's call to ministry. The mission of the Graduate School of Ministry integrates foundations of Christian faith and values with professional academic studies.