I have a conviction that nothing happens in our world, good or bad, that does not first pass by the hands of God and which He doesn't use to build His church.
Having travelled the world for many years I have yet to find a place where Jesus is not working in the midst of suffering and hardship. In fact, church history would tell us that God does His greatest work in times of hardship because in those times He has our greatest attention.
I believe that God is going to use this time in the church to strengthen and build it. Specifically, it is my conviction that He may use this time to help us grow in the following areas.
The American church has the resources, expertise and knowledge to do all kinds of things without much of God's power. Prayer is often perfunctory and an "add on" to our work. In the age of the caronavirus we are realizing that we actually need God desperately. That is a very good thing and a much needed course correction for the church.
Being the church
The average church attender believes that the church is the building that they worship in. It is not. Buildings are buildings. The church is made up of the people of God. We are the church and we take the gospel with us wherever we go. In a time when the church cannot meet, God is reminding us that the church is not a place but a people. This is a time to remind people that they are the church we we need to act like the church.
From the beginning of the church it has been the people of God who ministered to those in need, especially in times of crisis. This is such a time. The world is living in fear but the church has the hope of Jesus. For the church, crisis calls for engagement and service to those who need it. We may need to be creative but Jesus wants to remind us of the mandate and mission we have outside the walls of the building we meet in (or don't in this season).
From fear to trust and hope
Our world is driven by fear. Fear that I won't have enough, fear that I might get sick, fear that the stock market will wipe out my retirement account, fear that the world is coming undone. Jesus says "The righteous will live by His faith!" In these days we can learn again that Jesus invites us to a simple, child like faith in the loving, sovereign, all powerful Savior who never leaves us or forsakes us. It is a great gift to come to the place where all we have to trust in is God. He is enough!
Community is one of the key ways that we learn how to follow Jesus. Life together is about relationship, transparency, encouragement diving into God's word and a level of accountability that comes from loving relationships. In these days we need one another even more. We might not be able to gather in groups but we can certainly do life together via online tools. Perhaps God wants us to learn the value of relationships in a new way!
If you are a church leader, ask yourself what you believe God wants to do within your congregation in these troubled days. Point your people in those directions. God has everyone's attention. Let's pay attention to what He is up to behind this chaos. Remember, nothing happens in our world, good or bad, that does not first pass by the hands of God and which He does not use to build His church.