Opportunity for What?
“The Coronavirus is an opportunity the Church must not miss.” An Opportunity? Those words spoken by a pastor whose webinar I was on grabbed me. I hadn’t really been thinking of all we’re going through – world-wide pandemic, economic shutdown, hospitals overrun, social distancing, etc. – as an “opportunity”. An inconvenience – yes. Painful heartache – yes. Great loss and uncertainty – yes. But an opportunity? It is an opportunity for the Church because it is forcing us to get back to our roots. We can’t gather together in a building on Sunday mornings… we can’t meet over coffee or start a new program. Our Core Groups can’t meet in living rooms. We can’t even plan events to gather together in the summer. For children and youth most camps will be closed. So much of how we’ve done church in the past is now off-limits and unwise. The opportunity is to ask the questions we’ve been too comfortable to ask. We have been forced to get back to the core reason of “why”. Why does the church exist? Why do we do things the way we do? Why does our church look the way it does? Why are we located where we are? Why has the Church lost standing in society as a whole? Why…??? I believe there are some important lessons to be learned during this season… and that our situation has similarities to that of the early church. We have much we can learn from watching the disciples as the church is birthed. For our upcoming Digital Gatherings, we will be looking at the Book of Acts and connecting Biblical moments with what we are learning in these days of Coronavirus. The series is entitled: For Such a Time as This… for we believe God has us in these days for a reason and a purpose. We are learning again that church is much more than a once a week gathering of worship singing and a sermon. There is a place for a weekly gathering, but church is more about relationships and connections. I don’t think we realized how important being together is until we were separated by social distancing. Zoom meetings and Core Groups are fine (and we’re grateful for the technology), but I think we are realizing that it’s not quite the same as being in the same room with those you love. We are learning that the most obvious way we can show our love for one another is by practically caring for one another. This is probably something we’ve known in our head, but the virus has brought it out to our hearts and hands. There has been an exponential increase of intentional checking-in with one another and practical service… people are going to the market for those who shouldn’t, others are making masks to give away, meals are prepared for those who live alone… it is the best way for the church to love. We are learning that the world desperately needs the hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, we’ve known this, but when our world today is filled with so much death and despair it highlights the hope Jesus brings for our day and also for eternity. It is crucial for us to be passionate about sharing the gospel with our friends and family in ways that draw them into the hope-drenched arms of their loving Father. Finally, we are learning that it feels good not to hurry. I want to acknowledge that some of us are busier than we’ve ever been – you are a parent, working full-time, and now you’re a teacher – you don’t have a moment to spare from morning to bedtime. But for many of us the pace of life is slower… no shopping to do, no softball games or soccer matches, no hour-long commute, no family or friends to entertain… there is more margin. And it has created space for a deepening of our relationship with Jesus. It feels good and right – and there is a longing to not fall back into the hurried pace we left. There are other important lessons we are learning during these days; I would encourage you to take some time and write down what you are discovering so that you don’t forget it too soon. As the great New York Yankee Hall-of-Fame catcher, Yogi Berra, once said: “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” We do not know what the world and church will be like after the coronavirus… but it will be different. And it will be good. I know that I don’t want to miss the opportunity God has placed before us… Let’s seek the Lord in this day so that Baseline will thrive and be fruitful in our next season together.