"Christianity Post-Covid" continues tomorrow 6:30 PM on Zoom

Zoom link:

Passcode: 070586

Dr. Clay Stauffer and Dr. Rubel Shelly are leading a Wednesday night class talking about the challenges and opportunities that Covid-19 has presented for churches and for the Christian faith. 

How has Covid-19 changed the Christian landscape? What have churches done to innovate and adapt? What changes are here to stay? What has been lost? Is it making America more secular? Will things ever go back to the way they were before? How long until the masses will be comfortable coming back to church?  
“Morality & Idolatry” this Sunday, Jan. 24

Clay Stauffer
Exodus 32:1-2
In-person worship returns

Our 9:15 AM and 10:30 sanctuary services are back this week with our safety protocols in place. Our 9:15 sanctuary livestream also returns this week.
Christianity in a Post-Corona World 
by Clay Stauffer
This Sunday, January 24, our two in-person sanctuary services (9:15 and 10:30) will return with our safety protocols in place (masks, temperature checks, social distancing). We will also continue our online service and live stream the 9:15. 

Dr. Rubel Shelly and I are currently leading a Wednesday night class at 6:30 on “Christianity in a Post-Corona World.” We invite you to join us. 

2020 was an incredibly challenging year for all, but especially for churches, priests, and ministers. Leading a faith community is difficult and taxing during normal times, much less during a global pandemic where people are being told to stay away from each other for the sake of public health – the exact opposite of what the Christian community usually does. Throw in hostile politics, racial tension, and you get a perfect storm of stress and emotional exhaustion. 

The short term challenges and changes that have happened in churches are now obvious – virtual worship, live streaming, outdoor services, arguments over what is safe, suspending child care and Sunday School, declines in giving, Zoom meetings and Bible studies, and an ongoing challenge to keep people connected. What has not received as much attention are the permanent changes this pandemic is bringing to Christianity and the church. Here are TEN predictions:

1. Online church is here to stay. All churches should invest in their websites, streaming capabilities, and digital platforms for the 21st century. Even post-pandemic, the digital medium will continue to be essential and the preferred worship choice of many. This will allow churches to cast a much wider net. Live attendance numbers will likely take years to recover in most cases but will be supplemented virtually.

2. Many smaller and aging churches will be forced to close. This was already happening before Covid but will only be accelerated during this period. Larger churches will also experience a shuffling of members during this time.

3. Staffing structures will need to change. The same program staff needed pre-pandemic may not be needed when it’s over. New skill sets (including technological skills) will become even more important. A renewed emphasis on congregational care and healing will be necessary because of the stress, trauma, and grief that has resulted from the pandemic.

4. Difficult theological questions will need to be asked and explored. Why does God allow a pandemic to happen? How is God working in the midst of the pandemic? How is the faith community being called to serve those who are hurting?

5. A newfound appreciation for in-person fellowship, worship, and singing will continue to emerge. After months of being apart and looking at a TV or computer screen, Christians are more than ready to see each other in person and embrace. This process will evolve slowly as more and more people get the vaccination.

6. We will see a significant decline in unnecessary church meetings. Many churches are realizing how many committee meetings were taking place before where nothing was actually accomplished. People would simply go out of a sense of obligation and wonder why the meeting had to last so long.

7. The importance of active small groups will only grow. Those who have remained most connected to churches during this pandemic are most likely active in a small group or Sunday School class that gathers on a regular basis, even online. Effective small group leaders will be in even higher demand.

8. A deep hunger for hands-on mission will be present. Covid has been a legitimate obstacle for doing hands-on mission work which is where many find joy and meaning – building Habitat houses, hosting Room In The Inn, recovery groups, school partnerships, food pantries, mission trips. So much of this has been suspended because of how easily the virus spreads.

9. Churches that can successfully navigate the contentious political divide will draw new people. Many come to church to get away from awkward political tensions that divide, not to hear it from the pulpit. Ministers must be able to differentiate between “gospel issues” and “partisan issues.”

10.  Preaching and teaching that relates biblical truths to everyday life challenges and that helps people find meaning and purpose through knowing Christ will prove most effective. Christ continues to offer the answers to many of society’s deepest problems.  
 
These are only predictions. The coming months will tell if they prove to be accurate. What we do know for sure is that things will look and feel different on the other side of this pandemic. Change is inevitable. Growth for individuals and churches will be optional. Opportunities remain if churches are willing to take risks, think outside the box, and not live in fear.   
Deadline to register for Father/Daughter Dance "happy" is tomorrow, Jan. 20

Like many things this year, our 2021 Father/Daughter Dance will be taking place in our homes, but, have no fear, because the 12 South Band is here! We will livestream the band for a rocking good time beginning at 4:00 PM on Woodmont's YouTube channel on Feb. 7, 2021.

Grab your dance partner, get dressed in your fanciest outfits, and join us online!

If you would like to receive a dance "happy" in the mail to partake in during the event, please register below with your information. Anyone can join in our virtual dance! The registration is just for those that want to receive a "happy" in the mail. We do have a definite cutoff for this and it is Wednesday, Jan. 20, so that we can make sure your pretty packages arrive in plenty of time.

We can't wait to see you all virtually as we continue this fun tradition!
A Brave, New Year Ahead!
by Farrell Mason
Are you familiar with the game Jenga? The game begins with a tower constructed with 54 blocks. The object is to remove individual blocks without the tower collapsing. Every time a piece is removed by a player, the structure becomes more unsteady. I find Jenga to be an apt metaphor for the experience of being human, especially over this last year. We are marvelous strongholds, but inevitably the realities of life: terrific loss, physical and mental fragility, natural disasters, challenging relationships, and financial insecurity test our grounding, what we believe and hold to be true and trustworthy.
 
2020 swung the pendulum too far in the province of loss. Many times over this last year I have found myself wondering, “Where are you God?” “Things are not as they should be, God.” “Creator God, your beautiful world is coming undone. Please do something.”
 
I sat recently by the bedside of a young mother losing her battle against breast cancer. I crawled into the bed with her three young children to help them say goodbye. When I left I felt a Jenga block in my heart loosen and shake my spiritual foundation. Then another block slipped with the death of my friend Daniel. He was forty-two, again with such young children, stricken with complications from Covid. Eighteen years ago, Daniel saved the day for us when our son Charlie was diagnosed with cancer. He gave my husband a consulting job at his company which allowed him the flexibility to be at the hospital during Charlie’s treatments. But what I remember the most about Daniel was his infectious joie de vie. His jolly presence made you feel like all was right and good in the world. Next my shaky tower received a knock-out blow with the devastating news that my dear friend Tallu has terminal brain cancer.
 
Questions abound. Is my determination to believe and hold on to hope a deceit? Does the joy really return in the morning as promised in Psalm 30? Does every story find its redemption? The internal tug-o-war between belief and unbelief is real. And yet, something still, small, and not of this world—deep inside of me— refuses to give in to despair. I just have this sense that God and God’s benevolent, redemptive plan cannot be toppled—which means you and I cannot be toppled.
 
Herbert McCabe, a theologian and a prolific Christian writer I admire avows the most fundamental truth of our mortal existence—we are loved by God. He said if we know in our depths that we are loved by God, then nothing—not our darkest night, not our greatest loss or most frightening doubt, not our pain, not our suffering, not even our deaths can topple our tower. God will somehow step in for us. Maybe it doesn’t happen when we think logical or imperative. Maybe we will never be given tangible proof, or even experience it on this side of heaven, but when you love something, you step in! In Jesus’s moment of utter despair, when it appeared all the lights had gone out, God stepped in. God declared that Love would always have the last word.
 
2020 has left us all wondering who and what can be trusted. The reality is our health, the news, temporal institutions, and human relationships are all flawed, and will inevitably let us down. God promises in 1 Corinthians 13 that Love can be trusted. Sometimes I wonder if we have forgotten God’s definition of love.
 
love
/ləv/
1. Love is patient, love is kind. 2. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 3. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 4. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 5. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 6. Love never fails.
 
As we brave this new year, I lean into the prophetic words of Martin Luther King, Jr: “We must rediscover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world.”
 
In 2021, let us write a new story, redemption, our plot—Love, our protagonist.
 
Live in Hope,
Virtual Vespers with The Bridge to continue through January, Thursdays at 6:30 PM on Zoom
2021 Leadership Nominations
Church leadership is very important. Leaders will continue to chart Woodmont’s future. Woodmont will be accepting leadership nominations from the congregation until the end of January 2021. This year, we will be nominating:

1 Treasurer (2-year term)
3 Board Members (2-year term)
7 Elders (3-year term)
30 Deacons (3-year term)

In addition to recommending fellow members, you may also nominate yourself for leadership positions.

To submit your nominations, go to woodmontchristian.org/nominate
Giving Grace
by Abby McLean
As a mother of three young children, I rarely put myself first and it was starting to show at the end of 2019. I was throwing myself into motherhood, putting myself fully into my work at Woodmont, spending time with friends and putting myself fully into their relationships, and trying to spend as much time as I could with my husband, all of which are very important things to me. But at the end of the day, I was running on empty. I had nothing for myself.

So, for the first time in a long time, I sought out help. I began seeing a therapist. And mind you, this is pre-pandemic so the real fun had not even begun. But I decided to put myself first and give back to myself. If I’m not 100%, I can’t give 100%.

Mental health is one thing that is rarely discussed. It’s been seen as taboo for years. If you go to therapy, you must be crazy or something must be wrong. But what I’ve learned first and foremost from my year-long journey into therapy is this; those who seek out therapy and realize they need help are amongst the strongest people I know. They realize that they have faults/traumas and that sometimes, just the process of walking through it can start the healing.

This last year has been anything but easy. It has escalated people’s reasons for therapy or exacerbated situations that were already existing prior to Covid. My advice is that if you need help, ask. You are never a burden and you are worthy of God’s grace and forgiveness.
Watch "Christianity Post-Covid" part 1 with Clay Stauffer & Rubel Shelly
Latest sermon "Morality, Character, & Leadership" Shan Foster & Clay Stauffer
Prayers for our church family

NEW CONCERNS:
  • Beth Sowell - knee replacement surgery Jan. 20


CONTINUING CONCERNS:


FAMILY/FRIENDS OF MEMBERS:
  • Kasey Clymer's brother, Matt Mangrum - NHC at the Trace. Surgery rescheduled for February.
  • Lindsay Hammonds, sister of Susan Hammonds-White, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii (stage 3 ovarian cancer)
  • Bill Heyne's mother, Edie Holmstrom (90 yrs) in Ohio 
Our elders invite you to join them in prayer

  1. For each person on the cares list and those with medical concerns not listed.
  2. For the safe and orderly transition of our nation's leaders.
  3. With gratitude for the blessings of each day.
Giving


December 27: $63,585
January 3: $295,903
January 10: $20,670
January 17: $41,831
Woodmont Christian Church
3601 Hillsboro Pike | Nashville, TN | 37215 | www.woodmontchristian.org 
Growing disciples of Christ by seeking God, sharing love, and serving others.