Lighthearted Connections Help Kansas Church Rise Above Crisis
By Carl Stagner
When disaster strikes, eyes naturally focus on television screens, computer monitors, and handheld devices. Certainly, Christians shouldn’t ignore the realities of the world; on the contrary, God’s people find value in staying informed as the body of Christ seeks to address needs with knowledge, boldness, and compassion. But, if left unchecked, watching the headlines can prove disheartening, dizzying, and downright depressing. Considering elevated anxiety across the board amid COVID-19, Christ Church in Wichita, Kansas, is fostering lighthearted connections to help their congregants rise above crisis.
Much like the popular social media posts that encourage users to “post the third photo on their phone,” Christ Church has noted the fatigue people feel over being inundated by coronavirus-related content. As shelter-in-place orders keep parents at home and children complete their studies in the living room, Christ Church issued “The Daily Challenge.”
The Daily Challenge encourages families to do something special each day that can then be shared on social media as a fun way to connect families of the church. For the second week of the experience, for instance, the Monday challenge was called “Time-lapse Videos” and asked families to film themselves doing something “interesting, complicated, or funny in time-lapse mode,” which results in a video appearing to show subjects moving at superspeed. The hashtag #ChristChurchChallenge would then categorize these posts so Christ Church families can enjoy what other families produced—while remaining at a safe social distance.
Examples of other daily challenges include cooking up creative and unusual tacos, producing artwork inspired by favorite Scripture, finding and sharing a Throwback Thursday-style photo, and filming the depiction of a Bible story—only thirty seconds long and with props already available at home.
“The Daily Challenge is something our children’s ministry is providing to kids and families to help keep kids engaged with the church,” Pastor Dennis Turner explains, “but primarily to get parents to engage and stay connected with their kids. Many parents are not equipped for this, so we want to help them and disciple them and their kids at the same time.”
Another social media feature they’re using is Watch Parties on Facebook. For four nights in a row, they’ve feature live video events with variety and fun in mind. Using references to pop culture to lighten the mood and seek broad engagement, they advertised each night this week as follows: Monday—“The One Where Pastor Dennis & Cathy Answer All Your Burning Questions.” Tuesday—“The One Where Pastor Doug Helps Your Family Not Kill Each Other During Quarantine.” Wednesday—“The One Where You Worship in Your Living Room with Pastor Zac.” Thursday—“The One Where Pastor Norm Tackles Life’s Questions.”
Pastor Dennis explains, “We want to do all we can to connect relationally, and in real and practical ways. We are readily admitting that people are stressed, and fear is real. But God is with us and he will see us through. This also gives us an opportunity to be ‘real people’ rather than ‘platform people,’ doing life together with our family of faith.”
He also notes that Thursday’s event, dealing more seriously with life’s questions from a biblical perspective, is very much like C. S. Lewis addressing tough questions in England during the second World War.
On a more serious note, their ministry called Hope Ranch—known broadly to the Church of God movement because of its partnership with Trafficklight—is facing its fair share of challenges. But the church is optimistic, even as they enter a special season of prayer and fasting prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“So far Hope Ranch has been affected in much the same way we all have,” Pastor Dennis explains. “The women are now learning to deal with crisis and trauma differently. Please pray for financial provision, and peace for the staff, leadership, and the women who are going through healing and transformation. This is a test for all of us, especially those needing healing from past trauma. We are praying that the Father will redefine for them (and all of us) the ways we can depend on him and his powerful presence in the middle of crisis.”
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.
*Feature image: Dennis and Cathy Turner enjoy lighthearted conversation on Facebook Live.