To me, it feels like we are in the last 6 miles of a marathon.
In 2015 I ran a marathon. It’s easy to say, hard to do. In the New Orleans Spring, I ran 26.2 miles. I know I finished because I have a medal and a jacket to prove it. Please note I have not run another marathon since.
Marathons are a lot like this COVID season. I feel like we have been in a very similar pattern. We were forced to the starting line the second week of March, and then before we could get ready, we were running the first mile. This we did with excitement, energy, feeling good, and ready to take on the road. This changed as the miles fell behind us, especially as we hit the last 6 miles, which is sometimes called ‘the wall.’ The excitement is gone; the reserves we have built up to have been depleted. Our legs have gotten heavy, our lungs have begun to hurt, and all we have left is the will to keep running until we see the finish line. It is at this point we might question, “why did I sign up for this”?
This is the season we look deeper than the competencies we have learned in our seasons of ministry. Competencies are built around existing rules and patterns we have learned to navigate. Many of those rules and patterns no longer apply. We have learned things about our world, communities, and church families we did not know. Some of the things we had taken for granted about our world, communities, and church families have proven to be untrue. Some of these things we have learned have been extremely disappointing. Other things we have learned are cause for celebration. Yet there is 6 miles still left before we cross the finish line.
The mission of the church has not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The call God placed upon us when we made the decision to enter into ministry has not changed (even if this last 6 miles makes us want to quit). It makes it worse when the finish line seems to change and get further away.
It will be the spiritual and faithful and our relationship with God that will get us through this last part of the marathon. And it will be that same core that will be the foundation for our ability to lead the new church that we will find ourselves beginning in a few months. In the latter part of this season, we will discover a great deal about ourselves when we have to dig the deepest. It is here that we not only might find the foundation for our church’s future, but we might discover or rediscover the foundation for our own future life, ministry, and leadership in our church.
Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth