Ministry in the Dark Winter

It’s common knowledge that the holidays are an especially-sensitive time. As we approach late-November, families wrestle with increased stress and anxiety. Money gets tight. The schedule gets full. The days grow darker and the nights grow longer. For many, the holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of year. Instead, they’re a time of increased stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicide.

And that’s true in years without a global pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

And the very fact that we’re supposed to feel joyous and celebrate, for many, creates an increased dissonance—they feel more stress about feeling stressed, and depressed about feeling depressed. The cycle is as relentless as it is vicious.

In recent conversations and in my own experience, it seems somewhere between 35–40% of congregations are still worshipping at home in order to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Which begs the question:

What are you doing to help them navigate the dark hours of 2020?

How are you ministering to them?

How are you serving them?

How are you protecting them from the encroaching sense of loneliness and despair?

This week, I sent an email to those families that we’ve identified who are worshipping remotely at home and have not yet returned to on-campus worship services. The email was a simple invitation to let us know if they’d like to schedule a time to speak with me via Zoom or the phone. From a pastoral perspective, I want to take the initiative to reach out to those most susceptible to depression.

Here’s the text of the email. If you would find it helpful in your church, please feel free to copy and edit it for your church’s use.

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