Learning to Pivot

The word “pivot” has come up many times over the last two months due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. How has your church ‘pivoted’ during these last few weeks in order to love and serve your community in these challenging times?

This post is in response to our “Top 10 Ways Deacons Can Help During COVID-19”, posted April 20, 2020. There you will find a list of great tangible ideas for sharing and showing God’s love.

A while back, a coworker forwarded a great story to me from our friends over at Indwell. Due to the Covid-19 global crisis, a local greenhouse (like many others) was full of flowers that had nowhere to go. Instead of throwing them out, they decided to bless the residents at Indwell! Here’s what Indwell wrote in a recent email:

Flowers were donated to Indwell’s 600 tenants and over 110 staff members by P. Ravensbergen & Sons in Smithville.

“Are you feeling like life has you pivoting in all directions? That’s what it’s also been like for staff at our programs as we continue to support our tenants through this time. This has been particularly true with our food security programs. We now package up and deliver meals to tenants’ doors, where we previously encouraged people to socialize at mealtimes. At the same time, we’re preparing to significantly ramp up our food programs to include tenants who are usually independent in terms of meals but may need to self-isolate more in the future.”

Did you see that word? Pivot. When I hear that word I think of grade 4 gym class when we were learning basketball. In order to avoid a travelling call, the teacher taught us to pivot; keep one foot planted in the same spot while the other foot moves around freely helping you find a better angle in order to pass or shoot the ball. It doesn’t change your location, it just helps you get at something better. It (hopefully) improves your situation.

Pivoting doesn’t change your location, it just helps you get at something better. It (hopefully) improves your situation.

The word “pivot” has come up many times over the last two months due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. During the latter part of March and into April, Diaconal Ministries Canada staff were meeting daily (yes, daily!) on video chats to talk about what we needed to do to help and support deacons and churches during this current ‘crisis’ as they are being forced to pivot in their ministries and in their personal lives. 

For me personally, I have pivoted more times than ever these past weeks! When Covid-19 moved from being a problem “over there in China” to my own backyard, things got switched up pretty quickly – for myself and for everyone! On top of my regular life as a mom, wife, part-time Communications Coordinator for Diaconal Ministries, and gym-enthusiast, I’ve had to be a (sub-par) substitute teacher, a principal (ugh, don’t ask!), a mentor, a youth group leader, a nurse, an IT department, a boot camp instructor (for my kids!), a tax return filer, a therapist, a barber (yikes!) and probably a few more things I’m forgetting right now. Talk about pivoting!

Right now I am leaning on these verses from James 1. Here’s an excerpt from The Message: [emphasis mine]

2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

5-6 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. …

12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

16-18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

Through all of this, I’ve been reminded that sometimes we NEED to pivot, and when we don’t do it ourselves, maybe it’s God intervening; getting in our way, forcing us to. Again, pivoting doesn’t change our location: we are firmly planted where we are. But it helps us to move around a bit and see things from a different angle and do things differently when we are faced with a challenge or an obstacle.

So How Are YOU Doing?

A couple weeks ago, we posted a story called Top 10 Ways Deacons can Help During Covid-19”. We were pleased to see it got over 1100 views on The Network! In it we shared some ways deacons and churches can (and should) pivot during these uncertain and ever-changing times. For example, our first recommendation was to update your church’s website. While these weren’t listed in any particular order, one of the first things I did in my job at Diaconal Ministries was to change/update our website. We created a brand new landing page called Covid-19 Resources and Support. We wanted to let deacons know that we were here for them and they weren’t alone. We wanted to address their new reality and offer support in any way we could. 

The same is true for your church’s website. Websites are an important tool to inform your church members AND your community on what’s going on at your church and show them that you are active and available. How important is that right now?! One deacon noted that she was surprised how many of the churches in her small town hadn’t changed a thing about their website, including her own church, and she wondered if this would be a barrier for people needing assistance. “If I wanted to ask a church for help, the first place I would go is their website,” she noted. “I’ve found the majority of church websites in my community don’t even mention that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. This does not make me confident that they’ll be easy to contact, or willing to offer any assistance.” 

What if our lack of pivoting makes the church seem unhelpful and/or irrelevant?

While websites aren’t the be all end all of church ministry, what if our lack of pivoting (in this and other areas) makes the church seem unhelpful and/or irrelevant?

What Pivoting Looks Like

On our Facebook page over the last month, we’ve been sharing some of the exciting ways churches and organizations across Canada (and beyond) have been ‘pivoting’ as they adjust their ministries in new and exciting ways so that they can bring God’s love to those inside and outside of their churches. Here are some quick examples:

  • One church connected with the local grocery store to assist in food distributions and many are offering free grocery delivery;
  • A church in Edmonton is remaining active with the local public school and community in helping out, building on the relationship they’ve developed with them over the years;
  • Many churches are starting up community gardens or building container gardens for people to take home to address food security;
  • A couple churches out West have developed a Covid Response Team. One church has a team of 12, with 1/2 being prayer warriors and 1/2 involved in responding;
  • One diaconate not only offers assistance through an online form, but has also asked their members to share how they can help;
  • Several churches have held Drive-Thru Food Drives in their church parking lot;
  • Many churches are collaborating with local agencies already doing good work. One church asked their avid bakers to lend a hand and they were able to deliver over 600 muffins to a local family resource centre.

What amazing stories! So what could YOUR church do? And how can we help? We want to see churches love their communities in this time (and always!). Because of that, we’ve teamed up with World Renew Canada to offer Covid-19 Grants to churches who lack the resources to do so. So far we’ve had 10 churches receive funds. Here is one story that was shared about what two churches have done with their grant money. More stories are on their way!

As Monica deRegt (writer for Diaconal Ministries and wife of a pastor) reminded us recently, “The pandemic is not a good thing, and it is scary. But God is sure using it to help people be a lot more intentional about their connections and to draw people to Him in amazing ways.”

Don’t forget! Pivoting doesn’t change our location entirely: we don’t need to do anything radical or extreme. But when faced with a challenge or an obstacle, pivoting allows us to move around a bit, see things from a different angle, and do things a bit differently (and most likely better!).

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. [James 1:5-6, MSG]

Have a Story to Share?

How have you pivoted over these last days and weeks? Share your story with us! Email Erin at eknight@crcna.org or tag us in your social media posts: Facebook = @diaconalministries; Instagram = @diaconalmin

[Featured image; Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels]