Hymn of Promise

Lay Servant Ministries


Is your cup half full or half empty? That’s an old, old question which somewhat defines how we view life. A lot of us see the cup as half empty. Pastors are stressed out trying to meet the needs of their charges and families while struggling to decide whether it is better to meet in person or in some other setting. Are we going to lose members to other churches if we require masks? Will people come back or will they get used to staying in their “jammies” on Sunday morning? All questions that those in leadership struggle with every day.

Our church is no different--we have struggled to provide a safe setting that meets the needs of the congregation. We initiated online worship and found strangers were joining us. We even have one regular worshipper who joins us every Sunday from Uganda. We would never have known each other if it hadn’t been for the COVID virus. Our members have been faithful to the vows they made when they joined The United Methodist Church.

My adult Sunday school class began meeting using Zoom, provided by the conference, when COVID forced us to close the church. We did not lose a single member, in fact, we gained two new members, one from South Dakota and another from Tennessee. We never would have had them with us and enriching our meeting and our lives without COVID. We have moved to a hybrid format now. Some of us meet at the church, in person, while others join us using Zoom. We are doing this to keep our out-of-state members with us. This class uses the Upper Room daily devotional book “Disciplines.” For those not familiar with the book, it is much like the Upper Room monthly devotional. Each week a different author provides their thoughts on the weekly lectionary readings. So, each week is an independent study and if someone can’t be with us, they don’t miss out on sequential discussions. Sometimes adults are reluctant to join a class because they know their schedules will not allow them to be there every week.

A little bit about the class. This group has evolved and is similar to the class meetings in the early Methodist Church. We not only meet to discuss the lectionary readings, but we meet to share what is going on in our lives. We see how God speaks to us through the Bible and helps us make sense of our joys and sorrows. We share and learn from each other as we explore how God is present with us. 

As Christians, we sometimes use the metaphor of the butterfly. The caterpillar must go through a difficult transformation before it can become the beautiful creation God had in mind when he created it. If you have ever watched a butterfly breaking free from its protective cocoon, a real struggle takes place; life or death hangs in the balance. We are struggling to break free from our cocoons and become the beautiful creation God has intended us to be. Change is essential to growth in our faith and growth as disciples of Christ. Amen.

Bryan Hankins
Director of lay servant ministries, Missouri River District