Don’t Waste this Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited our movement, emptied our stores, closed our schools, taken our jobs and prevented us from assembling.    Several articles have addressed the issue of “closings.”    Folks have responded with articles on what is still “open.”

We have a choice when it comes to responding to this pandemic.   One choice is to be angry and refuse to cooperate with authorities.     Another one is to be unhappy and be controlled by our circumstances.     However, there is an alternative:  we can use this time, as some have suggested, to spend more time together with family, spend more time reading the Bible, more time praying, etc.

I suggest that we should use this crisis as an opportunity to grow spiritually.  In the April 24, 2020 issue of “World” magazine, Audree Sue Peterson suggests that we should be setting and achieving spiritual goals as we shelter in place.

For example, if we don’t learn patience during this crisis, this time would have been wasted.   A crisis without opportunity is hopeless.   Our present crisis, however, presents many opportunities.

We should also be spending this time making plans for what is waiting for us when this pandemic is over (some are now saying that it may not be over for several years).     The pandemic has changed our assemblies, Bible classes and outreach already.    When it subsides or goes away, its affects will remain for years to come.   In some businesses future plans have been moved up to the present.   Some congregations had plans for the future, and this pandemic has  forced them to go ahead and implement the plans.     Medical professionals had future plans for telemedicine in two or three years.   Guess what?  They are doing it now.  Necessity demands the change===ahead of schedule.    Churches are faced with a similar phenomenon.   For example, as the church turns more and more gray, more opportunities/challenges will come to use virtual means to communicate with those older members who cannot get out.    However, we are being forced to do such right now.   Similar things are happening with church education.   Fewer and fewer are att3nding Bible classes.   Solution?   Virtual.  We’re doing that now; it can’t wait no longer.

While you are in the thick of this pandemic, I suggest you some spend time evaluating and assessing several things in your congregation.  You may object by saying that you are too busy just trying to adjust to this new norm/reality.  However, I suggest that you look at the following in this context because issues are fresh on your minds.   If you wait til everything returns to normal (which, it never will be same again), you will forget what you are learning ln a daily basis now.  Following are a few suggestions:

  1.   Assess your mission statement as a church.     Most congregations don’t even have a mission statement.   If you are one of those, I strongly suggest you get one or credit one.  The pandemic can show you where you are weak and where you need to make changes.   Your core values are coming to the top; possibly some changes need to be made.   For those who have a mission statement, the challenges of this pandemic may have provided church leaders ideas for revised and updated mission statements.  
  2.   Assess your assemblies.     We haven’t assembled for 12 weeks.   We have had virtual worship services all this time.    We don’t have all the elements in virtual services and we’ve added one more:  communication for an elder each week.  Sometimes our normal assemblies are stuck in a rut and need to be evaluated.  I am NOT promoting unscriptural worship; I AM promoting assemblies that truly worship the Lord, communicate to the church, edify the church and emphasize just how important being together is.    

You might want to ask this question, “Should we stop having Sunday evening services?”    Face two facts:  Sunday night attendance has been going down for years, and you haven’t been attending Sunday night services since the pandemic started.   Why start up something that was dying in the first place, and hasn’t been utilized for 12 weeks.   To me, Sunday night services are a thing of the past.    This is something to think about.  

  •   Assess your Bible classes.   If your congregation is like most, only 50% of your membership attends.    For the past 12 weeks 100% of your congregation may have not attended Bible classes.   I am not advocating doing away from Bible study.   However, this is an opportunity to do it differently when you get back together.    Some are advocating returning the responsibility of teaching children to their parents.    There is material available to help parents teach their children at home.   I would also strong urge leadership to know what their children and adults are being taught.   Some of it is heavily repeated and some areas are totally neglected.    And some printed material is weak and, in some cases has false doctrine.    Why not take some time to review everything.
  •   Assess small groups.   Some congregations already have small groups.  Those who do and those who have trained well, they work well.   While you were not assembling as a whole, several of your members met in smaller groups, many without your knowing.  Definitely families met together.  This crisis also affords you the opportunity to rethink why you have small groups.  You may revise your purposes, add others and delete some.
  •   Assess all of your ministries.   Some of your ministries will die.  Some should die.   New ministries will begin because of a new need.   New needs have surfaced during the crisis.  Assessment of ministries need to be done constantly.   Good stewardship and common-sense demand it.
  •   Assess your church budget.    Let’s face it, the church budget in most cases has been hit hard by this pandemic.   In most cases, members have done a pretty good with their giving the first month of the pandemic.   The second month was/is a disaster.    Some churches have closed their doors forever their giving tanked.   Some are having to make big adjustments.   One thing is for sure, you need to communicate to the congregation the need for them to continue to give during the crisis.   Salaries continue to be paid, bills continue to come in and emergency needs arise.    Members laid off need help.   Community needs offer opportunities to serve and many of these cost money.
  •   Assess your means of communication.    We use eight or nine means of communicating with our members.   A large number of means should be used all the time.    Budwiser and other vice-producing companies spend billions advertising to and communicating with us.  We can’t do less; we must do more.
  •   Assess your staff.    You may have to let someone go because of the money.  You may have to hire someone to do a ministry that now requires a full time staffer.   Someone on staff may have to submit to a new/different job description.   Some of this is obvious and some of it will not.

I’d like to hear from you.   Please share how you are using this crisis to make some needed changes.

Trav