The Challenges and Joys of a Lockdown Women’s Worker
The coronavirus pandemic has brought great change to church ministry, with many challenges and many joys.
I vividly remember standing on the balcony of Charlotte Chapel, more than six months ago, talking to the wife of one of our pastors. As we discussed the unfolding coronavirus situation, we joked nervously about how this could be our last Sunday in church. Looking at what was happening in Europe some sort of lockdown seemed possible, but we weren’t ready to believe it could happen to us.
Oh, how things have changed since then!
As I look back, I wonder if I would have done anything differently that last Sunday. Who would I have made a point of speaking to? Would I have taken more time over certain conversations, rather than rushing through my to-do list? Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Regardless of what I could have done differently, this six-month mark seems like a good point to reflect on the challenges and joys of my lockdown experience.
The first twelve weeks of lockdown had its challenges. Overnight my normal pattern of work was thrown up in the air. Moving church ministries online, finishing a degree from my living room, and not seeing friends and family was hard. But over time I found myself settling into a manageable routine. I don’t mind my own company. Chats with my neighbours and getting out for exercise kept loneliness at bay.
Yet, as the restrictions have loosened and tightened again and again, I have found my tolerance for the new normal ebb away. I miss church. I miss talking to the women of Charlotte Chapel and praying with them in real life. I miss being able to reach out and hug someone when they are struggling. I feel the weight of caring for people spiritually from a distance, especially those who might have slipped off my radar.
Ministry is not meant to be done online. Without the spontaneous conversations in person after church, there is an increased burden to keep in touch with as many women as possible - it is easy to overlook when someone is struggling. But there are only so many hours in the day and zoom fatigue is real. The challenge is to keep going and to keep reaching out to the women in the face of the weariness.
However, these past six months have not been without joy. I finished a degree, got a new job, visited family, spent more time appreciating the small joys of reading, baking, gardening, and running.
In church ministry, one of the biggest delights has been seeing our ladies’ Bible study move easily online. I worried if some of the members of the group would manage the technology - I needn’t have worried. With some extra help, we saw almost 100% of the group join the Zoom call.
This weekly contact with our groups, the prayer support, and time in God’s word proved to be invaluable throughout lockdown. Each week we marvelled at how relevant the passage was for our current situation. God knew exactly what we needed to hear when we most needed it. In light of God’s goodness and sovereignty, we shouldn’t have been surprised!
It has also been a real joy seeing the love and care the women at Charlotte Chapel have shown towards one another. Stories of people calling, sending cards, and shopping for others have been such an encouragement. Lockdown has shown just what a privilege it is to be placed in a church family.
Throughout the joys and challenges, I have been increasingly aware of how God is using this time to teach me. My next lockdown post will explore this and how I hope to hold onto those lessons.