Resources for Group Leaders
Dear Walnut Creek Presbyterian Community Group Leaders and Ministry Group Leaders,
As we embark on a season of cancelled Sunday worship gatherings, our congregation needs you and your ministry more than ever. I’m writing for two reasons: (1) to say, “I’m with you and praying for you” and to please contact me if you’d like counsel or support as you lead your group in this challenging time (email@example.com or 925-360-1802), and (2) to offer you some practical resources (see below) for adding optional content to your groups as you lead them, whether virtually or in person. As your new Assistant Pastor of Community Groups I certainly would have preferred a different first week on the job (!) and to be gathering with you all face-to-face, but our sovereign God always has his good purposes. Some of you have rightly cancelled your gatherings because they exceed a safe size according to the County’s guidelines, and others of you will choose to cancel events because your group has members of high-risk populations. However you choose to lead your people during this time, I’d urge you to continue to pray for them, tell them you’re praying for them, and make one-on-one contact where you are able (even if just electronically or by phone). For your members to feel any kind of a “touch” from their leaders, however brief, is a form of Christian care that will mitigate some of the isolation that many have begun to feel. So, take a look at some of the ideas below, reach out to your people, and certainly reach out to me. We’re in this together, and always under the strong and tender care of the Shepherd of our souls.
Rev. Brian Kay
Assistant Pastor of Connections and Community Groups
UP, IN, and OUT DURING CORONAVIRUS
A summary of the “three loves” of Jesus himself is that he loved his Father (UP), loved his followers (IN), and loved the world (OUT). We are invited into that same life of balanced loves, and can help lead our people in the same three-dimensional Christian life. Consider which of these practices might benefit you or the people you lead at WCPC:
Up: Our relationship with God
Consider this simple morning goal: “Bible before breakfast, prayer before paper, spiritual media before social media.” This is a wonderful opportunity to embrace that daily habit in order to stay “rooted and grounded in love.”
- Bible before breakfast: Spend fifteen minutes engaging our Sunday sermon text or the daily devotionals we’ll be posting beginning March 16 (see church website).
- Prayer before paper: Spend five minutes praying for our church, city, and world. Consider Bart’s suggestion to use the Lord’s Prayer as guide. We even made a prayer guide for you this season using the Lord’s Prayer. It is also right here on our website.
- Spiritual media before social media: Spend five minutes quietly paying attention to the presence of the Holy Spirit and pray the words from Psalm 31 that Jesus prayed on the cross: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
In: Our relationship with the Church
In times like this, it’s important to remember that the Church is not merely a Sunday event in a building, but a people beloved by the Father, united to Jesus, and empowered by the Spirit. In the Book of Acts, we see the early church gathering “day by day” in large spaces (“temple courts”) but also gathering in smaller contexts (“house to house”). We do this to remember that the living Christ is present with us by his Spirit, and that we have been adopted into the family of God the Father, sharing with our sisters and brothers the deepest possible connection.
As a Community Group or Ministry Group leader, we leave it up to you and hosts to decide about meeting week-to-week. We hope you will come up with creative opportunities for people to connect online, use their regular group times to pray about this pandemic, and develop a communication plan and even some form of a “buddy system” so that no one feels alone and isolated during this moment of “social distancing.”
Out: Our relationship with our neighbors
While some are stock-piling toilet paper and price-gouging Lysol disinfectant, we are called to follow Jesus who “came not to be served but to serve” and who commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Here are a few things to consider:
- Pray for and reach out to your neighbors: Know that their stress and anxiety levels are likely increasing, and let them know that you care about them. Wash your hands, and “wash the feet” of others. Don’t touch your face, but let your face shine with the light of Christ on the disconcerted faces of those around you.
- Those who are young and healthy: Be “preparing without panic” to serve our church family and our neighbors who may need groceries, medications, goods from our households, and other forms of tender loving care. Invite younger members of your group to check incoming emails and the church website for opportunities to serve.
- Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts: In our technologically advanced, affluent, 21st century Western world, more often than not, we live under the illusion that we are in control and that we have the resources to accomplish whatever we want to accomplish. Events like a pandemic shatter that illusion and expose it for what it is. Whatever you are feeling about that, I want to reassure you with the words of Jesus: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). The risen Lord is our life, he has given us the peace that passes understanding, and he assures us that nothing can separate us from his love. Remember that the peace of Christ is the greatest gift you have to offer your neighbors. Which of these thoughts might members of your group most need to hear? Which of these thoughts might offer hope or “gospel-intrigue” to your non-believing neighbors?