Like the rest of us, our church has not had “regular” worship services for almost three months now. We’re looking to begin limited on-campus worship services in the near future, but while we’ve ceased normal church activities, God has not stopped working in our midst. In fact, He’s used this COVID-19 crisis to refine our church, fulfilling 1 Peter 4:12, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you.” I pray the same is happening in your church through this crisis.
1. This crisis has built resilience in our faith. I have been continually inspired as I’ve checked on our church family. Instead of “woe is me” and bitter complaining, I’ve seen a strength and resilience bloom in the hearts of our church. They want to spend less time talking about themselves and more time asking about how others are doing and inquiring where and how they can help and give back. Their faith has not weakened during this crisis, it has only strengthened.
2. This crisis has fueled new generosity. Like everyone else, the tentacles of this spreading crisis is having an economic impact above and beyond the health impact. But my church has continued to give faithfully, and they’re even going above and beyond to collect food and other items to give away to hundreds of families in our local community. Our church holds to outrageous generosity as a core value, and this crisis is allowing us the chance to truly live that value out.
3. This crisis has forced us to invest in our online presence. Like many other churches, our online presence was not what we wished it was. But it’s hard to invest and expand your online presence when you’re so focused on all the in-person events that happen on a weekly basis. When this crisis hit, we shifted our ministries to online. More than just a temporary placeholder, we’ve leveraged this opportunity to expand not just worship services but all of our ministries to have an online presence. There is still much more we can do, but we’ve jumped years ahead in just a few short months. When we resume our on-campus worship services, our online ministries will remain, because everyone we’re trying to reach lives online. This crisis has forced us to go where people are living, and I for one am grateful for that.
4. This crisis has refocused our attention on what’s important. Where I live (just outside of Washington, D.C.) can seem like one constantly spinning hamster wheel. There’s always someplace to go, there’s always something to do, traffic is always jammed. This crisis has refocused my attention (and the attention of my church) on what’s truly important: family and faith. I am grateful for that refocusing.
5. This crisis has opened up new opportunities to share the gospel. Like the early church in Acts 8, this trial has forced us out of our comfort zone, and we have taken the gospel with us. We’re interacting with our neighbors in ways we haven’t before. New people (and people who would never attend in person) are watching online and hearing the good news of Jesus.
QUESTION: How is COVID-19 refining your church?