The Coronavirus Challenges for Churches
We’re now over 500,000 deaths and almost 11 million cases worldwide. Impact on churches is a mixed bag. But we know the good will come (Romans 8:28). Some thoughts:
- Crowds are smaller. Crowds were getting smaller anyway. Now the pressure is off of pastors to produce big crowds. Big crowds were not a value of Jesus’ ministry. Equipping the few to make disciples in the daily course of life was and should be for us. Adjusting to fewer crowd drawing events and more equipping events for now will be a must. Jesus could have focused on the crowds, but chose to invest in a small number of disciples who would reproduce His words and ways exponentially.
- Mission Trips are cancelled. Travel is going to be greatly restricted in the coming years and this will have an impact on the work of missionaries, the experiences that drive calling to the mission field, and the way churches organize missions ministries. The bright side: We can get more focused with our going and giving. The things that we have done that doesn’t lead to evangelistic impact at home and abroad are clearer now than ever. The instagram moments on the mission field can give way to deep thinking and praying for the lost world wide.
- The Mandate to Gather? As churches have made tough decisions about regathering, the question of should we gather seems to get more complex each week. As positive cases arise, “should we close for a few weeks?” becomes a question. But, most likely, as soon as we reopen, someone else may very well test positive. So do we close for two more weeks? I’ve heard pastors arguing that the church has a “mandate to gather.” Is that our mandate? Shouldn’t we say our mandate is to worship God and make disciples? The Worship Gathering is a tool we use to do that, right? Hopefully, we come out of this with greater value for worship gatherings and a clearer picture of its rightful place as a time to surrendering our hearts to God and equipping believers for their own disciple making missions. Because what if we can’t gather next week? or for 12 weeks? Are they ready to make disciples who make disciples?
- What do we do online? We moved ministry online, UNTIL we could go BACK TO NORMAL. Now, we’re realizing that normal is changing rapidly. Most churches don’t enjoy or value online ministry. Most pastors are not trained and equipped for an online ministry. Many are adapting, but this is a radical shift and it doesn’t seem that we’re engaging the lost community directly online yet. Of course, many of our churches had not effectively engaged the lost around them for some time. Praying for breakthroughs.
- What do we do with all this empty space? Church building have been trending smaller, and even many small churches have been at less than 50% capacity for years. How do we re-purpose empty spaces in the age of Coronavirus? Larger, open spaces are needed for social distancing. Smaller classrooms are hard to use because of social distancing. This will change the way we utilize and imagine church space in the future.
- Disorientation leads to Direction. Honestly, I’ve felt like the disciples after the crucifixion or after the ascension. Nervous, disoriented, uncertain what we do next. We can count on Jesus, through His Holy Spirit to guide us to a clear direction for ministry in these uncertain days.