Thinking the Covid-19 disruption could help the church might sound strange or even devious at first. But consider that the church in North America has not been doing all that well for the past decade, and you may ReThink the opportunity the crisis presents to the church.
Since upwards of 80% of churches have plateaued or are declining, you have to conclude most churches have been stuck in patterns of irrelevance and insignificance for a long time. Many pastors have been challenging the existing culture within their church, but have found their churches resistant to change. But now . . . change has been forced upon the church. The forced disruption from Covid-19, social distancing, quarantining, etc. at first caused pastors to react, but now the ongoing reality is causing pastors to ReThink how they do ministry. This is not a bad thing!
Pastors started by ReThinking how they streamed their Sunday morning worship service. But as time is progressing pastors, staffs, and church leaders are ReThinking everything. They are ReThinking how discipleship is resourced and practiced. Pastors are ReThinking how they are mobilizing people for missional engagement. Churches are ReThinking how they communicate to and care for their congregations. Church leaders are ReThinking how they meet and make decisions.
Now marry these two ideas: God disrupted our everyday lives and the church in North America needed to be disrupted. Could God be up to something NEW here? I think He is, allow me to speculate a little about people, churches and pastors.
- People are more flexible now than they have been in a long time. The norms and expectations have been shattered. Everything is being renegotiated. Everything is on the table when it comes to change. This is the single most opportunistic moment for change within the church since WWII, and the church needed to change. The question is how are you planning for long-term change so when the crisis is mitigated, you and your church don’t fall right back into old patterns that lead to greater decline once Covid-19 is gone?
- The church is asking existential questions for the first time in a long time. These existential questions have to do with the mission of the church, how the church does ministry, and what really matters to the church. Everything else has become superfluous. People need the church now more than ever and usually in times of crisis people gravitate to the church. However, this time they cannot “come” to church. So, churches are having to reinvent how they are sharing the gospel, discipling followers and mobilizing members. This is driving pastors and churches back to the essential aspects of what ministry was intended to be.
- Pastors are innovating and taking risks for the first time in a long time aka “acting in faith.” Without faith it is impossible to please God, and currenly some churches are in danger of pleasing God for the first time in a long time. Pastors we have to believe the second half of Hebrews 11.6 too, “and that he is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” I believe if the church can get out of its way (get out of its patterns of “how we have done church” in the past) this might be the church’s finest moment in our lifetimes.
God has never wasted the crisis! It was Henry Blackaby that termed the concept “Crisis of Belief” in Experiencing God, and he taught us how God intentionally brings His people to the crisis moment in order to cause them to act in faith and Rediscover who He is. God has caused people to turn to him in faith through crisis. He has transformed people through their crisis. He has changed people’s perspective through the crisis. He has revealed Himself through the crisis, and so much more. Churches, pastors, Christians, don’t waste the crisis. Let this be the moment for this generation when we rediscover and recommit to the mission of the church.
Ps 34.17-20 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.