Our lives have been turned upside down by this global pandemic. Back in March, I don't think anyone thought we would spend the next six months trying to adjust to a new normal - many of us are working and "going to school" from our home offices and dining room tables, masks are the newest wardrobe accessory, and spending time with family and friends looks a lot different and distanced. Even as we returned to in-person worship two weekends ago, it was difficult to avoid hugging, handshaking and catching up with friends we haven't seen in months. We will be forever changed by this season of quarantine, isolation, and disconnectedness.
In the midst of all the uncertainty, we've had to do things in new and different ways. It hasn't been easy but the way we've remained connected to one another has shifted from physical to digital, including the way we "gather" for small groups and Bible studies. Our computers and cell phones have replaced our cars as the means by which we come together to grow closer to God and one another.
Despite it feeling less personal, wrought with technical challenges and internet issues, gathering virtually hasn't been all bad. We've heard stories of ministries GROWING during this time where connecting happens through a computer screen instead of over a cup of coffee or a meal. In fact, in one of my groups, we have a member who lives in Canada! She's been worshiping online every Sunday for years and has always longed to join a Northland Bible study or small group. It wasn't until we launched Easter Groups in April that she was able to take her next step in growing deeper in community with her Northland family. One of our men's groups has a member who is a snowbird and spends only half the year in Central Florida. He's remained connected with his group via Zoom and has even invited a friend, who lives in another state altogether, to join every week. The link for both of these men has been important for their spiritual and emotional health and growth.
We've also seen growth in our special needs ministries where artists with special needs join their friends virtually from New York, Portland, and several other cities outside of Central Florida. In fact, our songwriting class is taught by Eleanor Tracey who is living in Seattle!
God has shown us that even in the midst of COVID-19, we can keep connected to Him and to others. Even more, we can reach so many more people who otherwise could not participate if we met locally. I've been amazed by the stories that ministry leaders and congregants have shared about God's faithfulness, keeping us closely knit even when we can't actually be together.
With all of this in mind, we're taking a different approach to Connections Weekend this fall. Instead of being in the foyer, we’ll be online for Virtual Connections Week! Every night we'll highlight a different ministry area. Leaders will share about their classes and groups and answer any questions you might have as you explore your next steps. It's going to look a lot different but it's an incredible opportunity for you to hear directly from leaders, ask questions, and even invite someone to join you, no matter where they are! Think of a friend or family member who you would love to be part of a Bible study or group with you this fall. Invite them to join you to explore all the amazing opportunities during Virtual Connections Week!
Check out NorthlandChurch.net/ConnectionsWeek to learn more about the on-campus and online ministries we're offering this fall AND share the link with a friend so they can join you, too! If you have any questions, please email our Director of Equipping, Barbara Olsen, I hope you will join us!