Western Region Director Kevin Allen and CE staff share some thoughts in light of the increasing concerns around COVID-19.
Recently, I saw a picture of a woman entering a Costco in Seattle with a gas mask. While not everyone will take measures to that extreme, the last couple of weeks have certainly changed, for the time being, everyone’s lives here in North America and worldwide.
Christianity Explored may not be the first thing that comes to mind with the coronavirus pandemic. But I wanted to take a moment to consider the opportunities and challenges that we face in this unique time. Here are five thoughts:
- This is an opportunity to grow in spiritual health. My pastor reminded our congregation that COVID-19 functions as a bit of a wake-up call for our world, one in which humanity has suddenly become aware of its weakness. In reality, we are no weaker than we were before the virus (God is still sovereign), but we’re more aware. This awareness of the brevity of life is a spiritually healthy practice. Consider Psalm 103:15-16
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
In our sanitized, scientific, modern society we like to think that we are immune to death. When wake up calls like this hit, fear reigns everywhere (especially at the grocery store if you’re trying to buy toilet paper!). But for Christians the sting of death is gone and hope reigns. So we can proclaim with confidence the next verse:
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children.Psalm 103:17
- This is an opportunity to strengthen our faith communities… aside from Sunday morning. Many churches around the nation are ceasing in-person services due to CDC recommendations. However, this is a wonderful reminder that the church community should and can be infinitely more than Sunday morning services. Here at CE, we are seeing pastors, small group leaders, and families take advantage of this hiatus from normal church activity to focus on small group community. For instance, I spoke with one CE Course Leader that has been meeting with a large group of 65-85 people. But because the church campus is being closed for the next couple of weeks, their CE table leaders are getting creative about hosting folks in their homes, sending the streaming videos to the participants and more. We’re excited to see this emphasis on smaller, more intimate connections forming through this time. (If you have questions on adjusting/changing your CE courses, please reach out to us.)
- This is an opportunity to think outside the box. With the new phenomena of social distancing, it’s easy to think we have to suspend all evangelism or discipleship activities. This certainly isn’t true! On the contrary, we believe this is a great time for churches to take advantage of resources designed for online, streaming, or remote use. For instance, one of our board members regularly leads CE series by sending videos links through email and then hosting the group via Skype. As our world becomes increasingly digital (COVID-19 aside), faith communities need to ask themselves, “How can we use the Internet, social media, streaming, etc. to reach people with the Gospel who we may not otherwise encounter?” What better time to practice that than now? To get access to Christianity Explored’s online resources, sign up for our Leader’s Area here.
- This is an opportunity to be bold! In times of societal turmoil and uncertainty, evangelism almost gets a little easier! People are actively asking questions, looking for hope, and reaching out for community. From college students stranded on closed campuses to elderly neighbors needing groceries, this is a time to be the hands and feet of Jesus, loving through our actions and letting the Gospel shine through our deeds. Let’s step across that pain line, engage in spiritual conversations, open our homes to those in need, and speak out with a message of hope and confidence in the media whirlwind of anxiety. With empathy and wisdom (now is probably not the time for streetwide evangelism crusades), let us offer “a reason for the hope that resides within us.”
- This is an opportunity to pray. Let’s be intentional about remembering our leaders, our fellow Christians, and our missionaries here and around the globe. If you would like to join us in prayer, please lift up our staff, leaders, and pastors sharing the Gospel in heavily affected areas of the world. We know that God works all things for the good of those who love him, and we believe this virus is no different. Pray that light comes from darkness, that the Gospel is spread (even through social distancing), and that people are receptive to hearing some good news in this time!
In the Gospel of John, Jesus comforts his disciples with these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me… in this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As the world moves through this season of anxiety and disruption, we hold to Jesus’ words. He is in not only in control, but is actively looking for those who will serve him in this time. Let’s answer that call and be a church community that meets needs, discourages fear, and shares the best news ever.