By Cheryl Magness
Fear. Guilt. Anger. Uncertainty.
In a fallen world, these things are always with us. But national and world events of the past few months seem to have brought them in even greater measure. Add in loneliness, sickness, death, loss and grief, and one might be left wondering where to turn.
The Rev. Robert Zagore, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission (ONM), says, “The more uncertain and unstable the world gets, the more we need to build on the solid rock of God’s Word and promises. He is the source of our confidence, resilience, hope and strength.”
To assist LCMS churches and workers in doing that, the ONM is preparing a new set of Bible studies on health and well-being — spiritual, mental, emotional and physical — for use by both individuals and congregations. They are particularly suited to the difficulties of COVID-19.
Some of the topics included are:
- Stress and anxiety
- Financial struggles
- Dealing with conflict and criticism
- Recognizing warning signs in yourself and others
- Wondering where your church is when you need it
- Dealing with anger at others and at God
- Compassion fatigue and burnout
One study that has already been released, “Making Critical Decisions as a Congregation,” offers biblical guidelines for churches facing significant decisions during challenging times.
In the study’s introductory video, author Rev. David Fleming, associate pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., and associate executive director for Spiritual Care at DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel, notes, “A pastor friend told me, a couple of days ago, ‘The problem lately is that there are so many difficult decisions every day.’”
To aid in making those decisions, Fleming emphasizes the importance of:
- Recognizing who the enemy is (and isn’t).
- Identifying the non-negotiables.
- Doing your research.
- Showing respect to all.
- Communicating effectively.
- Being both thankful for and realistic about your own congregation, which is “not a utopian community” but a body of “real sinners to whom is delivered real forgiveness.”
Over the coming months, more than 30 additional Bible studies will be released under the Synod’s new emphasis, Making Disciples for Life (MDFL), which was approved by the 2019 LCMS convention and unveiled at the Initial Gathering of MDFL earlier this year. A second regional gathering was planned for April but had to be cancelled due to the nationwide coronavirus shutdown.
The new studies may be accessed at the MDFL Internet Resource Center, which is a key MDFL component put in place to make resources readily available to congregations, workers and laity. Located at makingdisciples.lcms.org, the Internet Resource Center is intentionally dynamic, as it is continually being changed and updated in response to the needs and input of the church.
The Internet Resource Center’s search function is designed to return results under a variety of key terms, including Witness and Outreach, Worship, Stewardship, Lutheran Education and more. The user may enter a term in the search field at the top of the page or browse all the resources under a specific category farther down the page. The search function also invites the user to indicate whether he or she is looking for resources for individual or congregational/school use and whether he or she is a church worker or lay leader.
Deaconess Tiffany Manor, director of LCMS Life Ministry, said, “We are fervently working to meet the needs expressed by our church workers who are serving tirelessly during these demanding and difficult times. The Making Disciples for Life Internet Resource Center is a tremendous blessing to provide the resources the workers have requested directly into their hands as well as into the hands of our dedicated lay leaders across the LCMS.
“Above all, we pray for the work that is being done, throughout our Synod, to make disciples.”
To access available Bible studies and other COVID-19-related resources, as well as a variety of other church and ministry resources across a wide range of topics, visit makingdisciples.lcms.org.
Posted June 30, 2020