Arnold in a cave

Have you learnt any lessons from lockdown during this pandemic? What lessons do you want to carry with you as lockdown eases and many aspects of life begin to return to normal? Obviously, we are not back to normal yet by any means and I don’t expect us to be for a considerable time yet. But we are beginning to see change with shops re-opening and some children returning to school and nursery.

I’ve had this blog post on my list of posts I would like to write, pretty much since week 1 of lockdown. Because even back then we were learning lessons from lockdown, and I knew we would be learning more as the weeks progressed. 13 weeks later, and we have certainly learnt more. I’m also sure that we will continue learning, so I’m tentatively calling this part 1…

Here are my lessons from lockdown so far!

Church buildings are a help…

Honestly, the first weekend that churches were closed, and we had to move to online services, I think everyone was in such shock that we actually managed it that the response was “who even needs church buildings anymore??”. But the longer churches have been closed the more I have seen the things that we are missing by not being able to access our church buildings. From not having somewhere to gather together, to not being able to take communion together, to not having somewhere to invite people to come together, to not having a base from which to serve the community – whether through toddler groups, or food banks, or outreach events.

…and also, a hindrance.

Despite all the good things that church buildings provide, they are also a barrier in so many ways. Physically, they can be a barrier that stops people from attending church because it takes so much more courage to enter a strange building, full of strange people, and often being completely unsure of what is expected of you. Being able to attend church virtually allows people to find out what church is all about with no pressure.

I have also seen how church buildings have become a hinderance through the creativity that so many people have demonstrated during this time without them. Even as ministers have been able to enter church buildings and film there, I have seen that creativity fall away almost immediately. Church buildings give us a sense of safety, of normalcy and it’s so easy to fall straight back into the mindset of not needing to think creatively because we know what we’re doing in this familiar building. But it would be such a shame to lose this creativity that has seen so many more people attending church, many people using gifts and skills that they wouldn’t usually, and many people feeling more connected than ever.

People deal with a crisis in different ways

There is not a “correct” way to deal with a pandemic. This is something so unprecedented, and not something that many of us have ever experienced before. Some people have used this time for becoming super productive, others have used it to rest, some have poured their heart and soul into supporting those around them, others have had to rely upon others for support for the first time. None of these are right or wrong. Unless you are turning to sinful coping mechanisms or sinful actions, I don’t believe there is a wrong way to deal with this. It’s a challenge. It’s a different kind of challenge for different people, who are affected in different ways.

As we do come out of lockdown, I encourage all of us to avoid comparing our lockdown achievements with those around us. It isn’t helpful. It doesn’t build anyone up.

Meetings don’t need to take 4 hours

There are certainly drawbacks to meetings held over Zoom but there are also certainly benefits. From the lack of travel saving time and money to the fact that we are kept on topic and are able to achieve our aims much quicker. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend holding all meetings virtually in the future, but it’s definitely an option worth bearing in mind to help keep us connected and working efficiently when it is needed.

People have gifts and skills that you hadn’t seen before

In a lockdown world, when we are doing things differently and finding new ways to support our community and serve God, different gifts and skills are coming to the forefront. We are valuing gifts in video editing, in digital communications, in all kinds of technology. We are appreciating those who are willing to go out shopping for others, and those who are willing to record themselves, and those who are able to make people feel connected even from a distance.

Please, please, please can we remember these gifts and skills as we transition back to normal life. As Christians we should be encouraging everyone to use their gifts to serve God and serve the Church body. We shouldn’t just stop encouraging these gifts just because we don’t “need” them anymore. Find ways to use these gifts. Keep encouraging these gifts, not just when it’s helpful to you.

I have a whole video on YouTube where I go into more detail about the gifts and skills that God has given to us, and how these have helped the Church to adapt to lockdown. You can watch it here:

What have you learnt during this time? Share your lessons from lockdown in the comments!

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