It was just six weeks ago that the COVID-19 pandemic began to rock our worlds, changing the way we work, relate, recreate, and shop. I could go on with that list, but you get the idea. Coronavirus, a word most of us didn’t even know a couple of months ago, has totally disrupted our lives, including how we do church. We all long to get back to normal, don’t we?
I get it. But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to get back to “normal”, especially when it comes to the church and how we approach our mission. For too long we have depended on people coming to us. We have poured our efforts into worship services, children’s and youth programs and other ministries that take place in our buildings, hoping that people would come and consider the claims of Christ. Then, six weeks ago, all of that was taken away from us and we were forced to get creative and find ways to “go and tell” instead of hoping that they would “come and see.”
When we finally do get to start meeting together again, we are going to face the temptation to go back to the way things were before COVID. We’ll tell ourselves that we don’t need to worry about our digital presence anymore because we can meet in person. And people will be free to come to us, so we can curb our efforts to find ways to connect with them where they live. Time to get back to “normal,” right? I hope not.
It occurs to me that we are in a similar position as the children of Israel when they were faced with crossing the Jordan and entering the promised land. You remember the story, don’t you? The 12 spies came back with the report that the promised land was even better than they had imagined. But 10 of the spies pointed out that there were giants that would have to be defeated, so the majority got cold feet and thought it might be best if they just went back to normal (Egypt).
It’s interesting that they remembered Egypt being better than it really was. It’s not that Egypt was so great, but it was predictable. They had learned how to survive in Egypt and crossing the Jordan to take possession of the promised land was just too risky.
We have gone through an incredibly steep learning curve over the past several weeks, trying to figure out how to be the church in a season when all of our favorite tools have been taken away from us. We have taken significant steps to have a meaningful online presence, have found ways to do discipleship when people can’t gather, and have creatively penetrated our communities with meaningful acts of service.
When we finally can start meeting together again it would be so easy to retreat to “normal.” For the sake of people who need Jesus, don’t do it! We have stepped into the Jordan, there’s no going back!