I can’t remember a New Year in my life where everyone was as eager for a New Year as this year entering 2021.
It was a challenging year, to say the least. If you are reading this in January 2021, I don’t need to explain why, and I’m pretty sure if you are reading this years from now, I still won’t need to explain it. I suspect 2020 will be infamous for years, right up there with 1929, 1941 and 2001. This past year contained elements of each of these horrific years, financial attack, attack on freedom from a foreign country and the nation brought to it’s knees.
However, the one major difference between 2020 and many other times of national crisis, the People of America rallied together. This time, they tore apart. And that’s as close to political commentary as I’m going to get.
The impact on the church was devastating. Churches closed, services moved online and so much more that threatened our ability to be the church.
Or did it?
Some have said that 2020 broke many church. I disagree.
If I’m thankful for anything in 2020, and I’m thankful for a lot, actually, I am thankful that the church was forced to be The Church. There was no going through the motions. We had to step up, decided what mattered most and focus our time, energy and resources where they would make the most impact.
I think 2020 showed which ministries and leaders were strong and healthy and which were coasting and just doing what they always do. That doesn’t mean they were doing anything bad – just that 2020 was a year that revealed our weaknesses more than it caused them. As a result, it’s a time to shake off what failed, what held us back, what was shown to be fluff, and refocus on what actually reaches the lost.
It was hard. Yes. But it also was exciting. We innovated. We got creative. We tried new things. We reached people we otherwise may have never reached. We gained skills and experiences that will only make our ministries more effective going forward.
I hope we never “go back to normal.” There are many things I hope we do get back – but there are many things we learned, launched and lead that I hope will continue into 2021 and beyond.
For me, we launched Kids Church Online. Not only is this great for kids who miss church, but it helps parents engage with their kids church experience at home. I hope that continues.
I launched a direct-to-kids media website, PastorKarl.com. In the past, I had to promote content to children’s ministry leaders, to parents or hope kids found it on YouTube while not liking that I was contributing to a site that overall, is not very positive or wholesome for kids. (I can’t control the ‘related videos’ that play after mine.)
I started a podcast for kids call Pastor Karl’s Bedtime Stories. Another opportunity to connect with kids and assist parents as they wrap up their day and provide a tool to end it thinking and talking about our Faith.
All this to say, I too am glad that 2021 is here, but I’m also thankful for the lessons of 2020 and hope that despite the very real difficulties and challenges of the year before, I pray that our ministries are stronger because we didn’t just survive it, we stepped up to the challenge and faced it as an opportunity rather than on obstacles. An opportunity to learn, grow, focus and be better instead of just overcoming obstacles.
Remember, after reminded his followers that He came to give us peace in Him, Jesus promised, “In this world you will face tribulations,” but He followed that promise by adding, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)