We set up a makeshift pulpit in our dining room. With the camera balanced on cardboard boxes and books, my husband preached while I served as executive producer—a role I gained overnight.
Immediately after his sermon, I taught children’s church via video conference from a desk in our bedroom. I also held an open invitation to all the ladies in our church to meet over video conference as a weekly check-in, a way to keep us connected somehow.
For three months, we held church in our home or in the parking lot of the church. For three months, we prayed for strong internet and no rain. For three hard months, we longed to gather in the building with our church family again.
You probably have a similar story. Everything about how we did church changed in March 2020. We immediately pivoted to an online format, something we had not done before. Like me, you may have found it was exhausting and emotionally painful. There were many weeks I didn’t feel like putting together a playlist of worship songs. I didn’t feel like studying for the kids’ lesson. And I definitely didn’t feel like being an executive producer anymore.
But as hard as it was, church leaders across Illinois kept showing up.
The Christian’s call to press on is clear in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
My husband compares endurance to a person who wakes up every day at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. They’re half asleep, stumbling around, mentally drained, physically tired, and emotionally spent. But they get on the treadmill anyway, and they start running.
As leaders, it is easy to become weary. We question everything. Are we reaching them, Lord? Are they hearing us? Are they growing? Thankfully, Hebrews 12:2 tells us how we can run our race with endurance: “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We are the joy that was set before Jesus as he endured the cross, and he is the joy set before us.
Even months after we made those first ministry pivots, our story of endurance isn’t over. We still have days we feel we are thriving, and days we feel like we’re just surviving ministry. On one Sunday, our back-up sound booth volunteer was out, and we weren’t able to livestream the service because my husband and I were home too after testing positive for COVID-19.
As difficult as this season is, we know that Jesus is still our hope. He’s still our focus. Leading is hard, and it’s painful, and it’s tiresome. But we can run the race with Jesus as our focus, our inspiration, and our example.
Aubrey Krol is ministry assistant for IBSA’s Leadership Development Team.