This article is written by Pastor Johnmark Camenga of the Lost Creek SDB Church, providing a picture of how God is at work in and through one of our local SDB churches participating in the SDB Church Revitalization Grant program.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” In other words, “Don’t give up. Persist.” I’ve found a loophole though. It turns out having to try again is contingent on having tried in the first place. So, if you never try, you never fail, therefore you never have to try again. It’s foolproof.
That is, unless you are called to the service of Jesus in the effort of advancing and expanding his Kingdom. If you are a born again follower of Jesus, this IS the call on your life and you MUST try. And—because life is hard, ministry is harder, we are all imperfect, and failure is inevitable—you will also have to try again.
I mention all of this because the world’s response to Covid-19 has shined a spotlight on one of my favorite ministry loopholes: the internet.
Let me explain.
Doing ministry requires work. Doing ministry on the internet multiplies that requirement. Preparation and execution and outcomes look different when the internet is involved. But, in many ways, internet-based ministry is kind of the caboose on the ministry train. When you’re on the train, you’re not thinking about the caboose. The caboose doesn’t help propel the train. If anything, it’s a drag on the train. So, you don’t have to focus on it or work on it or pretend it matters.
And since this is the attitude that many of us have about ministry + the internet, it’s been very easy to never try and never fail. Loophole.
That is, until Covid-19.
Now, the internet is no longer the caboose. Instead, the internet is the passenger car and the cargo car and the dining car. Overnight, ministry + the internet became a thing I can’t just ignore. In some ways, it became the church. And, most embarrassingly, part of what this situation made me realize is this: part of the church has ALWAYS been online and I have been happy to ignore them and pretend they didn’t matter.
So, we made the jump. Since March 21st, we have been online-only with worship every Sabbath and Bible Study every Wednesday. We have produced a few video prayers. We had a Sunrise Service as we celebrated the resurrection. Our setup has been simple and the impact has been real.
Now, we’re ready to up our game. Taking advantage of the Conference’s Outreach Grant, our church has purchased dedicated hardware for continuing and improving our online efforts. When we return to our building on June 6th, we will be doing so with a brand new understanding of the ministry landscape, a renewed sense of purpose, and the tools necessary to explore that landscape and achieve that purpose.
Yes, there will be failures and setbacks and yes, it would be much easier to just do it the way we used to do it; however, just as never trying means you’ll never fail, never trying also means you’ll never succeed. May God bless our trying.