Checking Our Vital Signs
-Pastor Miriam Smith
This past year, I’ve been thinking about vital signs in a new light. I’ve purchased new thermometers and checked my temperature when I feel off from normal more this past year than I ever have. I’m not good at always listening to what my body tries to tell me when I might be sick. It’s not always straightforward to listen to what my body is telling me—does my stomach hurt because it’s a symptom of something bigger, or did I get surprisingly bad news? Checking in on my vitals can help shed light on the problem. Stomachache and a fever? Well, that’s something to investigate differently than a stomachache and anxiety.
Medical professionals need to be able to tell if we have something wrong with us, and our bodies have ways of communicating what’s going on even if we don’t know. The church, as a body, is similar. You may be aware that Central tracks its vital signs as well. Each week we count the people in worship, online, and in classes. We track giving and membership. We keep up with mission’s activities going on. The numbers don’t tell the full story, but they can be helpful for asking the right questions. (For more information on our vitals, you are always welcome to come to Church Council where we share reports on how things are going and what concerns are arising. The next meeting will be September 19 at 5pm in the Fellowship Hall.)
In light of the ongoing pandemic, the UMC has been tracking the effects of all the changes we’ve dealt with as local churches and presented some interesting findings that I want to share here as encouragement. (Full press release here: https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/impact-of-covid-19-study-findings-equip-umc-churches)
One of the things that has happened across the board is the shift into a form of hybrid worship services. We’ve done that here, and will continue to stream our services online. Not just because of the pandemic, but also because it’s one of the ways visitors check out our church before they come to worship with us. People in the survey felt “encouraged on average” but also uncertain about the future. I think that is a fair description of what is going on beneath the surface for many of us! Our church, like many others, has had to adapt and adapt again to try to fulfill our mission together. And we will continue to do so in the time to come.
Here’s what our vital signs tell me: We’ve still got the desire to keep going. To keep pressing onward to the goal that Jesus has laid out before us. The most vital signs for each of us are the connections and the relationships we maintain and nurture with God and with each other. We will continue, together, adapting and growing as we live into our call to be disciples for the transformation of the world. I look forward to serving and growing with you this season.