Sunday, April 19, 2020

Curbside Calling and Porch Visits: Pastors' Wives in a Pandemic

- Valorie Quesenberry

This is a very strange time to be in ministry. 
Then again, it’s a very unique time to be in ministry!

Just think, we could have gone our whole lives and never experienced a season quite like this. Our mothers didn’t. Our grandmothers probably didn’t – most of them were not born in 1918. The pastors’ wives who influenced us when we were young girls didn’t. But we have!

Because this is such an unusual time, it is only fitting that God has birthed in us a desire to creatively keep on ministering to our parishioners. At first, it was rather unsettling, wasn’t it? We thought it might only last a Sunday or two. But then, we realized that we were going to be “shut down” for quite a while. Many of us had not done full-blown livestreamed services. Many of us had never had a Zoom meeting. Many of us were comfortable on the internet and social media but never imagined that it would become our primary source of communication and ministry. Our husbands were rattled a bit as they tried to adjust their preaching to a blank screen and did their best to figure out how they could encourage people who  desperately needed a bright hope just when we couldn’t even shake their hands or see them. Some of our churches started to do the drive-in church idea; the Christian community across our nation has adopted this novel way of doing worship – sitting in a parking lot, looking at a raised stage while listening to an FM transmitter or watching a livestream, singing loudly with the windows rolled up and honking the car horn for “amens.” The memories and photos of these days will someday invoke the kind of nostalgia we feel when we look at vintage images from the past. We will always remember the way the Church of Jesus Christ refused to quit and found ways to meet together from a distance. 

But in between Sundays, we have found that we need to connect with our church family. Part of the beauty of being the Body is the relationship with the other members. This has been taken from us in the ways we are accustomed to using. But, many of us have thought and prayed and tried something new. Here are some things that pastors’ wives across the country are doing:

§  Phone calls and texts to check in with families of the church
§  Driveway and porch “visits” with their husbands to encourage and pray with members; one pastor’s wife called it “curbside calling”
§  Schedule of handmade cards of encouragement from church children to elder saints
§  Post cards and cards with handwritten notes to church families
§  Treats and gift cards for bus-ministry families
§  Baked goods like cookies and cinnamon rolls delivered to church families
§  A weekly group ladies’ prayer call
§  Packets for Sunday School children with activities, treats and Easter eggs
§  A picture from each church family shared to a special page on social media
§  A Zoom ladies’ Bible study
§  “Masked” prayers at windows, 
§  Songs and prayers outside the windows at the nursing home
§  Flowers delivered to porches
§  Easter eggs hid in the Sunday school kids’ front yards with treats inside to coordinate  with the day’s lesson. For the adults - packages of Peeps candy with the words, “We miss our” peeps. “

§  Video clips from each family to post to the church Facebook page

All of these innovative ideas are things that none of us, a couple months ago, would have known could have such a huge impact. But it is vital for pastors and pastors’ wives to stay connected, according to the dynamic and needs of their congregation and the limitations of their situation. Not every church needs the same approach. And sometimes we have to try a few ideas before we find the right one. 

Of course, all of us hope that the situation will soon begin to change for the better and we can gradually get back to the “old way” of doing church. Imagine being able to meet as a group again on Sundays and Wednesdays and even on days in between! It might take a little while for the restrictions to ease, but we will celebrate when that big day comes! And I don’t think we’ll ever again be nonchalant about the privilege of gathering together as one Body in one place. 

The joy of heaven will be the eternal and constant presence of our Savior and the never-ending companionship of those we love. We were made for relationship. God remarked about the first man that it was not good for him to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) We are created to be social beings, meant to interact with our Creator and with each other. Sin has stolen from us, over and over again, this gift of relationship. Sin separated the first couple from God, and it isolates us today when we choose it over Him. And sometimes the results of sin in the form of a virus show up to separate us from each other. But over there, in that Land, there will be no separation of any kind. We may be sure of that. 

For now, we are going to overcome these obstacles to ministry with a little creativity and a lot of grace. The One who called us will enable us. And who knows what new skills we may carry into the next season of ministry? After all, God doesn’t waste anything He can use for good in our lives and ministry, even a pandemic.

Thank you to my online pastors’ wives for sharing their ideas with me. 
I love my ministry colleagues!

And, if you’re not a pastor’s wife, just know that YOU can be an encouragement to her! 
During this uncertain time, she has her own set of concerns and stresses. 
A text or phone call or small gift might really make her day.
Together, we can help each other to come smiling and singing through!

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