How can the church serve and thrive in the COVID crisis?
History: Sadly, this is not the first pandemic. Well before COVID, Christianity Today and Dan Carlin, host of a popular secular podcast, offered historical perspectives. (Carlin is a commercial venture. A 5 min. preview here.)
COVID is not a brief, unexpected blizzard but
a rather long winter. Why every organization may be wise to see itself as a
Prayer Guide: SIM's excellent contribution, for personal use and in small groups, here.
Deeper Questions: John Lennox, Where is God in a Coronavirus World? (The Good Book Company, UK, 2020) here.
Reset: How can we be the church "scattered" while we cannot fully be the church "gathered"?
(Note: when I first used the term church "reset" in the covid context in March 2020, I was not aware of the use of the same "reset" term by the UN globalists. In response to the use of the same term for opposite purpose, consider this letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. For further detail consider links in section on globlism)
Jeff Fountain suggests the crisis may be healthy for the church in that it presses us to ask such deep questions. See his "Weekly Word" (7 Sept 2020) Empty Church.
When conditions are comfortable, we as church, like society around us, tends to relax, lose focus and put ourselves first. When an ongoing crisis strikes, we often refocus and give our best. Dr. Ralph Winter and others have called the church to respond to humanity's "fall" as the crisis which requires a re-commitment to a wartime lifestyle.
(To those who argue sustained focus to be unsustainable, consider the rhythm of early Celtic Christians here.)
Some changes made in crisis make us better and should be retained after the crisis. You may want to share your list and I'll link to your suggestions from this page.
Models for COVID servant responses are multiplying:
Model for serving creatively may come from China itself - where the church began to wrestle with corona fallout first. Listen to a practical webinar (recorded March 25, 2020), two months into their lockdown, shared by Beijing International Christian Fellowship here. Link includes other helpful material.
Have you considered turning Christmas lights back on your house as sign of hope? Do you have a Nativity Star to put back up and light the night?
The human element: As technical resources for live-streaming abound, it's important to remember also the human element. Bob Logan offers helpful reminders here. Christianity Today reported on a Barna survey indicating church members are logging in less over time.
What about the use of parking lots: remember "drive-in" church? Here is a FB video of Christians gathering, physically distanced, to worship and pray at a hospital. Could this happen in your own church parking lot? Or, as a city church, are there other public space to be light set on a hill?
How will we return to gathered worship? What if not everyone wants to return physically? Here is how one congregation is gathering information from it's people in the process of decision making.
This is a good time to ask, "if we can do but little, what is most important?"
After live-streaming, might we focus on the church existing primarily in small groups, trained to be and make disciples, able to thrive and serve in crisis - and even grow? Consider this positive, practical response (here).
Historically, simple lay-led, scripture-focused, application-oriented processes have been fruitful even in most difficult times. Consider approaches such as these for disciple-making and pastoral care.
What about the basics of mission? Jason Mandryk of Operation World offers these challenging reflections: Global Transmission - Global Mission
Talk: Church leaders in your community are wrestling with similar questions. You can serve by inviting them to a 'one-off' or a regular conference calls to share challenges, resources, and pray for one another. I'm happy to post such forums here. Let me know.