My wife and I were grateful to be able to get together with some of our young adult ministry students for an online video chat last night. As part of the discussion, we asked everyone what they all thought was one thing God might be trying to teach them through this time of social isolation, or that he might be wanting to teach the church for whenever we finally come out of this ordeal.
It was a very fruitful conversation, and after sitting on it overnight I thought I’d share some of the lessons that stuck with me. Here are three things I hope all Christians keep in mind for the days after coronavirus:
- Don’t take community for granted. It is a gift, not a guarantee. We here in America have long been accustomed to feeling somewhat invincible compared to the rest of the world, so when luxuries are suddenly stripped away, it reminds us (or ought to remind us) of what’s truly important, like relationships with other believers. Now that many of us are suddenly far more dependent on help from others, it can hopefully teach us how insufficient our supposed self-sufficiency actually is.
- With so many people adjusting to watching church services online, there is a potential danger that once the crisis has ended a large number of Christians who could and should physically get back to their churches will simply continue to try and “attend” church from the comfort of their own homes (that is, if they totally miss out on the first lesson above!). We all agreed that one of the ways that local churches could help counter that tendency would be by making sure that as soon as they are able to meet physically again, they make those first meetings a big deal! We need to make the first weeks back truly feel like a glorious, exciting reunion of the body of Christ, and not just a return to the routine. A number of churches may also need to explore ways of making their Sunday services feel more connected than ever, and help their members bond together. We need to get our churches back to being less like conference centers and more like a family.
- We need to make sure we stay in the new habit of stepping up our game when it comes to helping the needy and vulnerable in our communities and neighborhoods. It’s been impressive to see churches launch some really great initiatives here in town to help those in need. Let’s not stop when the “shelter-in-place” rules are lifted. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, will we rush back to our comforts? Or will we realize that the spiritual urgency always remains the same?? Will we continue to seek out more creative ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus?
This season has certainly been challenging enough, so let’s not waste it by missing the lessons it can teach us.