Winterfest 2021 Plenary Saturday, February 6
Rev. Bruce Reyes Chow
An Unexpected, Generous, and Hybrid Table
I will be looking at what it will take to build a hybrid future: skills, offerings, and resources.
There are no silver linings from the COVID19 Pandemic. Too many people have died, too many people are now struggling with day-to-day survival, and too many people’s futures have been left in turmoil and doubt. This season in the life of humanity has been simply put, awful.
At the same time, during this time, churches have stepped into spaces that many would have never imagined they could. Congregations have answered the call to fight for social justice and institutional accountability; they have given resources of time, space, and prayer; and they have served, fed, and clothed those in need. In a time when all of our actions have been magnified through the lens of the pandemic, many churches have adapted in amazing and faithful ways.
This shift may not be more evident in any other area than worship. Communities have adapted to online spaces for worship, meetings, pastoral care, conferences, and more. It has not always been easy and not everyone thrives in this setting, but congregations have, across denominations, risen to the challenge in diverse and creative ways.
While there is no single, best way for people to gather for worship, as the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel begins to shine and the conversation about “going back” begins in earnest, the question for many congregations is this, “Once online worship is no longer the only option for you and your congregation, will you all have the willingness, energy, and capacity to birth, curate, nurture, and sustain a long-term digital space?” or more succinctly put, “What now?”
Our “hybrid” future, should we choose to build this future, will undoubtedly be fraught with obstacles and struggles. But . . . if we take this path of discernment seriously, openly, and honestly, the possibilities for impact and growth by being “hybrid” might just surprise us.