Nothing happens in this world
that does not first pass by the hand of God
and which He does not use to build His church!
There are three lessons that Covid taught the church that should not be missed. In fact, if your church misses these three lessons you will be poorer for it and may see your ministry decline. If you are waiting for things to come back to normal and assume that this normal is what was, I suspect you will be deeply disappointed. The new normal will not look like the past normal.
Covid has brought home lessons and has accelerated change. We need to learn the lessons it has taught us. If we learn these lessons we will see greater ministry impact. If not, not.
The first lesson is that the church is not our campus or our building but God's people. Don't miss that. For years in the west, we have taught our people that church is the building and the campus, and we built some great facilities. There is nothing wrong with these facilities. What is wrong is the concept that the church is the facility. Having not been able to be in that facility for almost a year, we have had to find new ways of doing ministry. God has taught us that the facility is not the church, but that God's people are the church.
In fact, this definition of the church, which is the New Testament definition, is the church distributed throughout the community, which is how God designed the church. In this season we have told our people to be the church where they live and work. That is different than the concept that to be the church you need to be at the physical church location.
This cannot change! Jesus gave us the opportunity to learn this lesson and our people should not be allowed to unlearn it. The church is not the building. The church is God's people. This is one of the most fundamental realignments of the church that Covid has brought us. It is a gift and needs to be reinforced.
The corollary to this, and the second lesson, is that ministry is not the purview of church staff but of all of God's people. This is after all the theology of the New Testament. but in the west we often hire staff to do ministry rather than releasing everyone in ministry. In this season, we have had to encourage everyone to be the church in their place of work and in their neighborhood.
Again, this is a lesson that we must capitalize on. The reason the church has so little influence in society is that God's people have not seen themselves as the ultimate owners of ministry (that is what paid staff do). In many cases, post Covid, church staffs will be smaller and that is perhaps a good thing as it forces ministry back to those who were to originally carry it out - all of God's people.
A third lesson is that in this season we have had to find innovative and new ways to do ministry, engage people and share the Good News. This cannot change moving forward. Covid has sped up changes that were already happening and our ministry environment is very different than it was previously. Traditional paradigms will not reach many of the younger generations so we must innovate if we are going to engage them with the gospel. Those who resist innovation and change and new ways of engaging people with the gospel will see their Gospel influence decline.
In some respects, Covid was a gift to the church. Don't waste the gift.