Even before COVID-19, the Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church identified a need for a library of video sermons for use in churches with pastoral vacancies, especially those that are geographically distant from other CRC congregations, which can make finding pulpit supply difficult.
However, during the restrictive months of the pandemic, with congregations being forced to adapt and go virtual, a new use for the videos became apparent: rest for pastors.
“As Worship Ministries talked with leaders across the denomination, we kept hearing that leaders were tired, burned out, and in need of spiritual and physical rest,” said Pastor Katie Roelofs, a worship catalyzer for Worship Ministries.
In response to these needs, Worship Ministries resourced a video sermon for Epiphany and allowed a few churches a preview. Rev. Meg Jenista Kuykendall from Washington, D.C. CRC had pre-recorded a 5-minute welcome and a 20-minute message with Scripture reading from Matthew 2. Worship Ministries staff also prepared worship resources to lighten the load for worship planners and pastors after Christmas.
Pastor John Dykhuis and Fellowship CRC in Albuquerque, N. Mex., have been meeting virtually during the past year and decided to use the video Jan. 3 at the start of Epiphany.
“I'd planned to be off that Sunday for a time of vacation. Pulpit supply was difficult to find on that Sunday, so I was grateful when the video option came our way,” Dykhuis said. “For the sake of familiarity and consistency in our Zoom arrangement, I did the worship leadership as usual.
“Simply plugging in the sermon worked well for our situation,” Dykhuis added. “My sense is that this resource can be very helpful for pastors and churches. When pulpit supply is limited, this provides an emergency resource or a ready resource to consider as needed. It's especially attractive for us in our online-only season.”
Pastor Tara Korinne at Bethany CRC in Muskegon, Mich., also appreciates the resource. “The video was a huge gift to us at the time,” she said. “One of my immediate family members had COVID, and so we were quarantining, and it made the decision of what to do Sunday morning much simpler. Although we had been livestreaming a service from our sanctuary, for that week we sent out a compilation video that included a previously recorded introduction from me, the Epiphany sermon by Rev. Kuykendall, and a video of Bethany kids acting out parts of the Epiphany story from their homes.”
Worship Ministries continues to add to its small library of video sermons for congregational use. Canadian ministries director Darren Roorda and executive director Colin Watson are expected to record two sermons from Philippians that will tie into Our Journey 2025, the CRCNA’s five-year plan. These video sermons, along with related devotional and worship resources, will be available to all CRC congregations through The Network (crcna.org/network).
If you know of a pastor who may need a day of rest or a vacant church that could use this virtual pulpit supply, contact Worship Ministries (email@example.com).