Ronald Session serves as pastor of Shiloh Church in Garland.
As the news about the global pandemic continues to change, we are seeing an increase in restrictions related to crowd sizes. Every church has been affected. How can the Church be effective when they are prohibited to gather? The faith community has a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in one of the most trying times in recent history. Let us consider how we might be impactful in this season of fear and hopelessness.
One of the first things we can do is to maintain a faithful witness within our communities. Church members can follow the mandates and recommendations of our governmental officials without grumbling or being critical. They have set restrictions in place for the welfare of our families and our neighbors. Christians should set the standard for cooperation with our civil authorities. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 13:1-2 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Being cooperative in this season will help us authenticate our claim as Christians.
Secondly, churches can lead by serving. Several people in nearly every community still have unmet basic needs. During this time of uncertainty and panic shopping, there are those among us who cannot get the basic necessities to survive the outbreak. In many cases, people are having to do without because of scarcity or their employment has suddenly ended without warning. This is a golden opportunity for the church to provide basic needs to burdened neighbors. By feeding them and providing groceries, toiletries and other scarcities, the church extends the love of Christ in very meaningful ways at a time when people need to be reassured that God has not forsaken them.
Another thing that our churches can do is lead others to a saving faith in a loving Christ. Because of the social distancing measures, people will have more time to contemplate their lives and will undoubtedly have many questions. Churches who have been trained and prepared for an opportunity to share their faith, now have a captive audience. Having a plan and being intentional may yield fruit for the kingdom. Even this is a part of God’s providence at work, giving the Church a chance to share Christ with people who are not certain about their destiny.
Churches can also be the voice of encouragement by providing pertinent information in creative ways. Taking time to add helpful tips, current available resources and creative ideas to help parents manage the task of educating their kids may be the very thing that someone will need to feel empowered during this time. You are already on the internet, carve out a little time to share helpful information that might alleviate undue stress. It also gives the community a reason to check out your platforms where they may find other things of interest and give you an inroad to share with them in the future.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect of ministry during this time does not take place in the community but rather in the home. Churches can be strategic when planning while the gathered community becomes the scattered community. Having materials for the entire family to study and engage in will help them place an emphasis on family discipleship. Each head of household can lead their family into focused prayer and Bible study, complete with fun games and activities that encourage total participation. Families can also share this information with others who are new to the area, looking for a faith family to unite with or have no relationship with Christ at all.
These are just a few things that we have suggested to get your creative energies flowing. You can find many ways to continue the work of Christ even if you cannot meet. God has given us incredible resources and access in our generation to meet a desperate world with a Word of hope.