Vandalia United Methodist Church

Pastor's Perspective

"Stand at the crossroads and look." Jeremiah 6

Lots of work is being done surveying Americans and seeking best practices for the church on the other side of the pandemic (and let’s hope we are nearing that other side). Church scholars and social scientists agree that there is a place for the church in a post-pandemic world, but we cannot be the church of the pre-pandemic world. If you think honestly about this, we have transitioned before.

Before television shortened American attention spans most worship services were two-three hours on Sunday mornings and we expected a sizable portion of our congregation back in church on Sunday nights. Before the automobile made weekend travel accessible, most Americans stayed home on weekends and pastors assumed their parishioners would be in worship 3 times each month (now the average is slightly above 1 Sunday per month). So what are the "experts" saying about the post-pandemic church? First, that some folks will not come back to in-person worship. We need to continue our hybrid approach.

We post our worship every Sunday on our Facebook page and routinely have 20 households (30 people) worshiping on line with those worshiping in-house. Second, that what we do outside of our building will be more influential than what we do inside of our building. Our involvement as a church in our community matters more than ever. Our ministry outreach in the community (coats and shoes, backpacks, food pantry) will be our primary legacy. Third, small groups will matter more than ever. People will search, in a post pandemic world, for "safe" places to find community. Bible study, small groups and interest groups (book clubs, craft groups) will matter. Finally, I find this hope filled for us, the Good News will be received more than the typical guilt-ridden-give 'em-hell monologue that the church has preached in the past. Frankly, those who have survived these two years need to hear good news, grace and love, from God and we are that messenger.

So how will this shape our priorities as a church and guide us into ministry in 2022? We can refuse to change and be the church of the past, or embrace God's calling and the Spirit's guiding and be the church that connects the Gospel to the world emerging from this two-year wandering in the wilderness. Or we can let other voices have this pulpit. I am glad that our church is choosing the former!

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tom






9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684