Intro: Things have changed. It has been exactly one year since the Covid crisis officially became a pandemic. One year since the masks went on and the Lysol sold out. In 12 months 10 million people have lost their jobs and half a million have lost their lives. Things have changed.
But not only have things changed in the world, things have changed in the church. Worship services moved from in person to online. It was immediately clear that some were more prepared than others. Some churches struggled financially, others didn’t. Some churches looked right at home in the online world, others….didn’t.
But now with the vaccine level and herd immunity on the rise, things are about to change again. “Churches are going back to church.” And the thought that we will return no wiser for the experience is scary.
So what are some of the lessons that Covid has taught the church. Lessons that we dare not forget There are many. Let’s start with 7. This is just a partial list so don’t forget to add to it.
One: People need People
It’s number one with a bullet! Every survey conducted to determine what people miss most about the church says the same thing. Fellowship! We might not like each other, but we miss each other. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually we function best in community. The church would do well to repeat the ministry of the first century church and prioritize small groups as a means of fellowship and ministry.
Two: We need a Mission Reboot
The dirty little secret of this pandemic is that a significant percentage of our members never made the transition to online services. They literally left for a year. What does that say about the relevance of a local church that folk could drop out for a year and not say a word or miss it? According to Ephesians 3:10 and other passages, the church is designed to be the place where the power and provision of God are on full display. A place of miracle and mission. Before we return to the building, we need to study what God had in mind for the church.
Three: Online services are here to stay
Churches have discovered that the virtual world is the great equalizer. No matter your size or location, you can make a major impact. Some small churches are reaching more people in a week than they had in a month, and some in a year. Although online attendance and In person attendance are far from the same, those numbers do count. Why? Because they represent people. Even if they clicked on for a brief moment, they now know who you are and where you are. Online ministry is real ministry for outreach and nurture. It’s here to stay.
Four: Our worship services need to change
The surveys say that what people miss most about the church is the fellowship. What they seem to miss least is the worship service. Not the worship. The worship service. The length of the services. The formality of the services. The lack of creativity of the services. The announcements in the service……I’ll just leave this here. What do you think?
Five: We need a real Sabbath
Jesus explained in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was designed to be a blessing and not a burden. For many, the Sabbath had become one on the busiest days of the week. By the time folk: woke up, got up, dressed up, drove up, and sat up for multiple services, they were tired. This pandemic should force us to take a serious inventory of our church ministries and meetings and determine what is essential and what is not.
Six: Release our Young Leaders
This pandemic has demonstrated the value of fresh faces and new ideas. Young people and young pastors have been much more comfortable and creative in this virtual space. If we don’t mentor and move over for a new generation of leaders, we will continue to commit slow-motion suicide.
Seven: We need a revival
This pandemic has been a dress rehearsal for a time of trouble that we can ignore, but we can’t avoid. We have seen how quickly things can change, how vicious people can be, and how unprepared we generally are. We need to do more than return to the building, we need to return to our first love. We have seen the future.
Well those are just 7 lessons Covid has taught. Let’s name some more. What do you think?
Also, I’ll be speaking about these lessons today at 11 CST for Madison Mission at https://madisonmissionsda.org. Join us for this month of Prayer and Purpose.