I think the first time I ever saw plate-spinning was on the Mike Douglas show. (Hush, I know I’m old). I was convinced there was some sort of gimmick – perhaps a small nail that protruded from the stick into the plate? – that allowed multiple plates to be spun at the same time.
When I got a bit older I learned this was called “adulting”.
Congregational leaders have not only needed to learn new technology and language (zoombombing anyone?) in order for folks to still gather for worship but there are several other plates they’ve needed to keep spinning over the last month. Church leaders have learned how to grieve with families who have lost loved ones (or employment, or dreams) via the phone. They’ve studied the intricacies of the CARES act and have had debates about the ethics of such. They’ve searched for ways to connect beyond physical coffee hour and years-old phone trees.
Those plates? Worship, Congregational Care and Finance? They are spinning like crazy.
The name of the fourth plate is “Unknown” and it represents all the anxiety and hope and worry and concern about what comes next for the church. We claim to know Whose we are… but who are we now that we are not the church on the corner that is known for their choir, great preaching and peach preserves?
These are the four plates the church will be spinning for the foreseeable future.
The good news is that these are four plates, and not the four horsemen. This is not the end of the Church, although it may be the end of the church we have known.
The good news is we are finding that we are so much more adaptive than we could have dreamed and that we have creativity and persistence cropping up in the most unlikely ways and places.
The good news is that we aren’t doing this alone. We have each other (what an incredible time to be the connectional church!) and we have our God.
What is the sound of four plates spinning? For me, at least today, it sounds like hope.