I’ve read several articles about online worship services. The Gospel Coalition published one by Rob Hill discussing the “new normal” of Sunday services. He makes several attempts to demonstrate that it’s okay if we don’t meet in person on a Sunday morning during this unique time. He reminds us we can still be together, virtually. Hill, like other authors I’ve read, assumes online services are best. But are they?
The global west is now on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. The epicenter of the novel coronavirus has shifted from our distant shores to our communities. After a sudden two-week blitz in the United States of implementing extreme social distancing measures that included closing stadiums, canceling large events, shutting our borders, closing schools and offices, reducing restaurants to carry-out only, and preventing the doors of our church buildings from opening, we now enter a critical week.
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.
As cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) begin to rise across the globe, governments are instituting travel restrictions, encouraging social distancing, canceling major community and social events, establishing quarantines, and in some cases imposing large-scale lockdowns. Such disruptive measures to daily life in the free world are naturally upsetting and worrisome. Anxiety is already high for many. In the days of social media, fake news, polarized politics, and ideological tribalism, it’s hard to know who or what is trustworthy. One thing is for certain, COVID-19 is here, and governments are taking unprecedented action not seen in generations.
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).