“How is it with your soul?” is one of many questions early Methodists would ask each other when they gathered to worship or read scripture or pray. Methodists in England in the 1700s were (in my opinion) the first small groups. Much before mega churches would use the term, John Wesley had Methodists getting together outside of worship to check in on each other and to ask “how is it with your soul?”
I used to think that was just an archaic way to say, “how are you?” But, after the past two years I understand in a new way the need to find a group of people who will ask you how your soul is doing on any given day.
Recently I read an article titled The Parents (Who Used to Come to Your Church) Are Not Okay. In it Lauren Graeber courageously shares how she has struggled to walk back through the doors of the church in the wake of the pandemic. This article hit me in the heart as a pastor and, maybe more, as a mother. People in our communities are struggling. Even though the pandemic seems to be waning we are all wrestling with the after effects. This is true for parents, for empty nesters, for young adults and for our kids. And what people are craving is for someone to ask “how is it with your soul?” and really listen to the answer.
If you read the article (and I hope you will), you will learn that all three things Lauren believes will bring her, and those like her, back to church involve being asked and given space to answer honestly. Perhaps this is a rhythm we need to recover from the early Methodists – to check in on each other, to ask how our souls are doing and to listen openly for an honest answer. What if this Lent we commit to checking in on one another and especially those we haven’t seen in a while? What could we learn and how could we be changed by simply asking someone “how is it with your soul?”