May 5, 2020

We've Always...

Did you ever think there would be a day when nearly everyone would acknowledge that “we’ve always done it this way” is no longer a valid excuse? I think it’s today.

Those who resisted live online communication are now regular attendees of Zoom worship and meetings. Those who never tried morning prayer are now regularly experiencing it in their home, often with their priest as their guide and prayer leader. Churches that were slow to offer online giving are now scrambling to make it available.

All over the church, creativity and courage are overcoming pandemic fear and isolation. Some examples:

  • Faith communities who may have struggled with steady interest in Bible Studies are now finding online group sessions well-attended. A friend of mine in the Lutheran tradition told me, “Our pastor started a virtual Bible study, and one of our shut-ins said it was the first one she has been able to attend in 10 years. Our pastor plans to continue to make it available to her and other shut-ins even after the pandemic.”
  • Congregations that live stream on Facebook are developing ways to connect with folks who are participating but who are new to the church. They hope to forge relationships that will result these virtual visitors attending when in-person worship resumes.
  • TryTank Experimental Laboratory for Church Growth and Innovation launched Dial-A-Priest ( making end of life prayer accessible 24 hours a day to critically ill and dying Covid-19 patients isolated from loved ones. Based on demand, Dial-A-Priest has expanded service to include pastoral care for families, health professionals, and patients who may be hospitalized for reasons other than Covid-19, in a time when more anxiety and fear than ever surrounds illness and injury.
  • Thanks to a partnership between TryTank and Forward Movement, you can now say, “Alexa, open Episcopal Prayer” or “Google, talk to Episcopal Prayer” and your device will begin playing the morning or evening prayer podcasts of Forward Movement.

“We are eager to see how this initiative catches on, so that we can learn more about how to bring spiritual practices and technology together,” said the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, director of TryTank. “Our early tests show that it quickly became a regular part of people’s daily routine.”

Such joyful, inspiring, and hope-giving changes. We’ve always not done it this way before!