Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
There were eight of them with us in the Sunday evening service, homeless men from the local shelter. Some were black, some were white, some were youngish, others were much nearer to senior citizen age, one was even on a walker. But none of them were “our homeless crew.” I know that may sound odd, but give me a moment here, and I will explain what I mean.
On this same past Sunday night, we had a huge youth choir to open the service. They absolutely raised the roof; it was amazing. One of our new soloists sings like a spunky little angel. Our adult choir normally leads off the morning worship, and our youth choir leads off the evening worship. But our huge youth choir, though excellent, was also a bit different.
The choir loft itself is different now, with a lovely rock wall replacing the simple painted drywall that had been in place for so long. The sound booth is also different; it has been moved down to floor level and does not look at all like the old one.
The congregation is different as well. Our church never did shut down during covid, but we did have turnover. It was pretty ironic, actually; we had some fine folks who left our church because they believed we should have been much more restrictive, and yet we also had many wonderful folks come from other churches to our church because their churches were either shut down or, in their view, were far too restrictive.
Two years has brought a lot of change.
Before the start of covidpocalypse, we picked up several men from the local homeless shelter every Sunday afternoon, brought them to church, fed them a meal, tended to them, loved them, brought them into service, and then took them back to the shelter afterward. They were “our homeless crew.” We knew them by name. We loved them. We took them to doctor appointments and met other of their needs. But for the last two years, the shelter was locked down. Now that it has finally reopened, all of our guys are gone, who knows where, and we are starting over from scratch.
During these last two years, a lot of our kids graduated and went to college, others got married, and others left with some of the families who departed. But others got old enough to get into the youth choir, and many others came with the many new families who became part of our church during that time. I did not even truly realize how significant the change was until I called for an old favorite song and realized once the piano started playing that many of them did not even know it! I am having to go back and re-teach those songs along with the new ones we are learning.
Pastors know where people sit. This may be a revelation to any non-churchgoers reading this, but church people generally pick a spot and then sit there forever. But as I looked across the crowd both Sunday morning and Sunday night, thrilled with the large number of people both times, there was also a tiny twinge of melancholy in my heart. Yes, those seats and those seats and those seats were full, but “those seats” used to have other people in them. I love and adore the people in them now, but there is still a newness of it all to adapt to.
We have people serving in positions that they were not in two years ago. We even have positions being filled that did not exist when all of this started. We lost one instrumentalist; we gained a concert pianist, an amazing little drummer girl (I love saying that), and a violinist.
We had a few funerals, though none were covid related. We also had several babies born, and our assistant pastor’s first baby will be making his appearance shortly.
I have no doubt that the entire world has been dealing with all of the emotions and fears and joys of all of this change as well. Families have changed, circles of friends have changed, places of employment have changed, schools have changed, everything has changed. And if people are not careful, they will allow the change to be a depressing thing rather than a delightful thing. So here are a few principles to follow to make sure you handle all of the change right.
One, remember that circumstances may change, but the God in charge of the circumstances does not, Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6. Two, remember that the old things you now miss were once new things you had to adapt to, and the new things you are now having to adapt to will become the old things that you one day miss. Three, remember that there is comfort in old things, but there is opportunity in new things. Four, remember that no matter what is going on in life, contentment is not something that comes over you; it is a choice that comes from inside of you, Philippians 4:11. Five, remember that change never takes away purpose; if you are still breathing, you still have purpose.
All of the change of the last couple of years has been like riding a wooden roller coaster with only rubber bands to hold us all in. But you have to admit it has been quite a rush.
Let’s get back in line today and go again.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner