Updated Friday, March 20, 2020 with new resources.
As churches and ministry leaders face a shocking new reality in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pathway forward on meeting the spiritual needs of our congregations and finding creative ways to remain on mission for the Kingdom are needed now. I hope you find the following free resources to be a benefit as you seek to continue participating in the message, mission, and movement of God in these challenging times.
I first met Michael in the spring of 2018. My wife, Mary, and I were in the thick of planting a new church in the suburbs of Chicago with a heart to serve the community and share the gospel of hope and restorative grace in Jesus Christ. We were filled with the Spirit, driven by our faith, and ambitious about what the Lord might do through our new ministry. Even our sending organization was optimistic in our vision, experience, and the possibilities of what might come of starting a new evangelistic community of faith. But optimism gave way to discouragement, confusion, and deep theological questioning.
The Christian church, regardless of denominational affiliation, doctrine, or methodology is being faced with the reality of a coming paradigm shift. There are significant disruptions already at play and forecasted to continue well into the future. Socially, financially, and theologically, the present day church in North America is generally unprepared to grapple with many of these disruptive shifts already making waves through the church.
Mary tucked the colored eggs away in preparation for some morning fun with the kids and I got the first pot of coffee started. In just a few hours our house would soon be transformed from a quiet sanctuary to a bustling gathering filled with food, conversation, music, and prayer. It was Easter Sunday and the body of Christ was preparing to meet, as we do every Sunday morning, in a simple and purposeful setting.
I’m not known to travel very much, especially by plane. However, as the Lord would have it, He put me on six planes in the span of 27 days that took me to the edges of the country for the purpose of joining Him in His mission. The picture above became a familiar sight for me. It was also symbolic to the purpose of each of these trips and how the Lord continues to be leading – “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Movements and causes come and go all the time. But there is one movement that has withstood the test of time because its founded in truth and spiritually empowered. Regrettably, the statistics have been in for quite some time: Christianity has plateaued and begun a slow decline in North America, not because its been proven false, but because we have lost sight of our mission.