The Post-Pandemic Church
In a world rocked by COVID-19, Churches of Christ face…
We are all tired of this pandemic. The summer of 2021 started with optimism and progress, rising vaccination rates and declining infection rates. Then came August and the delta variant. Now we have omicron. Our knowledge of the Greek alphabet is growing — but for all the wrong reasons. To borrow the language of lament, we are once again asking, “How long?”
The pandemic’s early days were filled with uncertainty. Our limited knowledge led us to do what we thought best. Fifteen days of quarantine to flatten the curve turned out to be overly optimistic. Then we canceled VBS, mission trips, potlucks, worship times and other important ministries.
As the pandemic dragged on, we began hoping and planning for the post-pandemic world. Nearly two years later, we continue hoping and planning.
Over those two years, some ministries sat paralyzed with uncertainty, waiting to resume normal life and ministry. With new variants and restrictions, any signal for all-clear remains uncertain.
The decision about how to minister in this moment has been falsely framed as a battle between fear and faith. The cautious are labeled “fearful” as the full-speed-ahead are labeled “faithful.” Both descriptions make an unfortunate oversimplification.
Faithful people of God have always found ways to minister, even in times of fear and uncertainty. Jeremiah battled the prophet Hananiah, who falsely promised Judah’s ordeal would last only two years. It lasted 70.
Related: The Post-Pandemic Church
Jeremiah knew God’s plans for Judah’s prosperity and future. Rather than hunker down and wait for post-exilic life to begin, Judah was told to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:11). There was work to be done.
The murder of Stephen created fear and uncertainty for believers in Jerusalem. Instead of waiting for a post-persecution era to resume their ministry, the scattered Christians “went from place to place, proclaiming the word” (Acts 8:4).
And Paul did not wait for post-prison life to carry on his work. From prison he sent letters, welcomed guests and shared the Gospel with even the guards who watched over him (Philippians 1:12-14).
Who knows how long this ordeal will last or what further adjustments to life and ministry may come? One thing is certain — it is time for ministry to go on.
We can no longer afford to sit and wait for a post-pandemic world to resume the work to which God calls us. Kingdom work has never been dependent on its immediate environment for success. The Gospel must still be shared. The hungry must still be fed. The broken must still be bound up.
Our plans and our tactics may change, but countless opportunities stand before us. The pandemic has only increased our opportunities.
“The longer we spend idly waiting for a post-pandemic world, the more kingdom opportunities we miss. And the more time we spend fighting over mandates and masks, the less time and credibility we have for kingdom work.”
The longer we spend idly waiting for a post-pandemic world, the more kingdom opportunities we miss. And the more time we spend fighting over mandates and masks, the less time and credibility we have for kingdom work. It is not unfaithful to be wisely cautious, but it is unfaithful to remain still! — Jeremie Beller, for the Editorial Board
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