I placed my joy into the momentum of a new church building. I think God will still give it to us. But the momentum of a new building, a growing congregation, an overflowing service, and an overflowing parking lot — all of that has been put on hold. We won’t be worrying about those things for the next half year or so. If we place our joy in any of those things, we’re missing the point of what God might want us to see.
Back to the Essentials
The economic impact from COVID-19 will challenge all nonprofits and churches that depend on charitable giving. Pastors will be tempted to long for the glory of the pre-COVID days, but our goal cannot be to rebuild the glory of the past. Our trust will no longer be in our performance, our size, the joy of our building, the security of our finances, and the list of our ministries.
God wants to break us down back to the essentials of Acts 2:42:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (ESV)
God is strengthening us. He’s reviving us. We are exactly where God wants us to be.
Churches with a New Normal
Let’s not be tempted to just set a vision of going backwards to pre-COVID glory, but to go forward to what God would have for us. Future generations will read about churches, not just our church, but all churches going through this global crisis. What will the history books say? What will they say about our church?
Beloved, this is our finest hour of trial. Big production has been minimized, and only the essentials stand. Because of COVID-19, my hope is that our children will grow up in churches with a new normal. My prayer is that church historians will write about how COVID-19 caused many churches to heed the devastating yet gentle call of Christ to repentance.
What our Children will See
Let our children see that God’s people love each other. We feel this love all the more because we’ve felt how painful it is to be torn apart. Never again will we complain about going to a fellowship meeting, small group gathering, or a Sunday School class. Never again will we complain about having to get out of bed early or finding a spot in the parking lot. From COVID-19, we’ve realized that we want to see people face to face.
Let the next generation see churches that will never forsake gathering in person because we’ve learned that video calls are no replacement for face-to-face fellowship.
The Fuel of our Faith
Let the rising generation see worship services small or large, where everyone is singing from the bottom of our hearts because we miss hearing the voices of the congregation. Let our friends understand why fellowship, small groups, and community groups take priority over other activities, because spiritual community is keeping us sane and comforted during this crisis.
Most importantly, let us remember our mission. Let every church prioritize our mission to proclaim God’s Word and to pray because God, as always, is using His Word and our dependence on Him through prayer to fuel our faith during this crisis and unknown trials to come.
Hanley serves as the English Lead Pastor, where his primary responsibilities include preaching, leading, shepherding, counseling, and other aspects related to the English congregation. He is happily married to his bride Meryl and the two have a daughter and son. View more articles from Hanley or visit the blog homepage.