The beginning of my pastoral ministry has been a succession of emails, texts, whatsapp messages, messenger group chats and those ubiquitous zoom meetings. So, when another email came with another zoom meeting invitation, I inwardly sighed while I clicked ‘accept’.
It felt like I had only been at Beachlands Baptist church for five minutes before the country went into lockdown. It was actually six weeks, but everything I had been working towards over those six short weeks suddenly shifted and changed. Gone were face-to-face meetings and pastoral visits. Gone, too, were the rhythms I was only just getting used to: such as hanging out with the youth leaders on a Friday night and popping in to the mums’ group on a Tuesday morning. In their place was a void of unpredictability and unknown. And it was daunting. What shape does pastoral ministry take in lockdown especially when you are new to the community and don’t really know anyone?
Carey’s Pastoral Leadership training helped shape adaptability in me: something that didn’t come naturally and took three years and four different church placements to mould! But adaptability was exactly what my role needed alongside a willingness to do what was necessary. And what was necessary was to remind people that we have a never-changing God in the midst of an ever-changing world.
A couple of weeks ago, we had our first MDC virtual meeting over zoom. Despite my reticence to join yet another zoom meeting, it was wonderful to familiar faces again. These fellow pastors, like me, are figuring out pastoral ministry in new towns or contexts. They are my heroes because they are learning every day how to live out the gospel and willing to do so bravely. MDC gives me a safe space to share my failings and challenges me to continued growth personally and pastorally. While Carey didn’t equip me to pastor during an unprecedented global pandemic, it did teach me to take risks for the sake of the gospel, including learning how to use a new kind of technology!
Written by Julie Redwood | Associate Pastor, Beachlands Baptist Church