Part of Being a Disciple: Taking Care of Our Sheep?

What makes my heart sink faster than any other news I hear? I can answer this question easily. When I receive news that someone is disappointed that the church has not responded in their time of need. I always feel sadness when this happens. You do too! I know we all feel grief when this happens.

In this Beacon article, let me raise three questions. First, why do we miss needs? Second, how can we improve? Three, what plans are in place to care for our sheep?

First Question: Why do we miss needs?
The most common reason is we did not know. Not just an oversimplification; it is the prevailing reason that we did not know. Another occasional reason is that we are told things verbally when our information bank is crowded, like Sunday morning worship. Without the information written down, it can be lost by Monday or Tuesday. Unfortunately, this is an unintended consequence. However, I am telling you this does regretfully happen but is never by design. Another reason we miss important news about our congregation is the messenger forgets. A person with a need tells someone to tell us, and the information is dropped before it reaches us.  When this happens, we may hear after the fact or not at all. Also, another prevailing reason is some people prefer to keep their needs private. In such cases, we honor the request.

Second Question: How can we improve on caring for our sheep?
When we learn of a need, let the church know. Having all "hands on deck" is still our best method of helping with this important area. The Covid-19 era has been extremely challenging to understand all the specific needs of congregation members. Due to Covid concerns, many members have not worshiped in person for over a year. As a result, there are numerous things we do not know about our people. Therefore, you will often learn information about congregation members before a pastor. This is normal. Please pass the information along so we make sure it is followed up.

Let me highlight, if congregation members especially want a pastor, please let us know. Our pastors' cell phone numbers are published to make it easy for our congregation. Please do not hesitate to call or text us when a pastor is requested. If you do not know which pastor to contact, feel free to contact me.

Of all times to care, we all want to live out our discipleship of loving and caring in this unprecedented time of need with Covid, economic challenges, and divisions in our country. More than ever, we need to care for one another in the church!

Final Question: What plans are forming to better care for our congregation?
How are we going to love and care better? First, this is a team effort. It is beyond just the pastors. In this Covid-19 era, we all need to STEP UP, for caring does take a village. Second, I will be forming a new team of laity and clergy to help us respond to what appears to be an emerging tsunami of needs in this Covid-19 era. If you would like to help with this new team, let me know. Third, in this latest wave of Covid-19, I will be resuming "check-in" phone calls with our members. My goal is to have every person connected with Shalimar UMC receive a "check-in" call by the end of September. The call will come from one of our other pastors or me.  Fourth, the old "grape vine method" still works. Please let us know about the needs of our congregation when they become known to you.

Finally, Covid-19 has been on the rise again! As we care for our congregation, I invite you to read an update from our Church Administrator, Scott Newbold.  Scott will update our current Covid protocol as a church. We continue to seek to follow the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control. (CDC) It is a unique time, and posting these guidelines is another way we care for our congregation!

We will get through this time! Thanks for being the congregation you are! Our caring for one another is a part of our discipleship! Let's seek to follow Jesus and care for His sheep!

Shalom,
Philip

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