Pastoring a Congregation Virtually
I’ve been serving as interim pastor of Multination Church, Frankfurt, Germany, since last July. When I was approached about doing a ‘virtual’ interim in the middle of COVID-19 restrictions, we all had no idea this pandemic would go on as long as it has. Another thing I didn’t realize was how well everyone would respond and engage over the internet.
The experience has reminded me of a few prerequisites and taught me a few new things that are helpful to include as we incorporate these practices into our routines for the post-COVID long term.
April and I began this endeavor with a bit of concern over how well we would be able to engage with people we have never met – never engaged in person – and never shared any experiences with. We did have a few pre-conditions working in our favor.
The first is the significance of a common bond in Christ. Multination is a very diverse congregation. And it enriches my soul every time I experience Christ in the midst of such diversity. Our Lord and Savior binds us together as one and serves as the common thread through which we can build relationship. Yes, even over the internet! Prior to this experience, we didn’t think it was possible to establish relationships with anyone without meeting them in person. This experience has proven otherwise.
A second thought is that with such a globally diverse congregation, it is also significant that we have lived in Europe and Asia, therefore understanding and appreciating some of the differences from other cultures around the world. Living in other cultures has allowed us to hear, understand, and meet needs in ways that wouldn’t have been possible if we only had exposure to one culture.
Also, over the years in my working life I conducted many meetings over video and had to learn the skills of building relationship and managing meetings over long distances and time zones.
Finally, the quality of interaction is also somewhat dependent on the quality of the internet and the internet tools you learn to use that facilitate larger group meetings. We were able to hold a quite effective two-day church conference because of Victoria Aleksandravicene’s facilitation skills and maneuvering through the use of tools to engage everyone.
This experience has been fulfilling and revealing as we have gained a love and appreciation for a community of believers on mission to fulfill the calling of Christ on their lives and their church.
Interim Pastor, Multination Church, Frankfurt, Germany