I have a firm conviction that nothing happens in our world, good or bad, which does not first pass by the hands of God and which He does not use to build His church. History is full of examples of adversity that become accelerators to the advancement of the gospel. In fact, it is often in the face of difficult challenges that the church shows itself to be the most resilient.
The age of Covid has been difficult and presented many unwelcome challenges. But, there may be some hidden blessings for both the church and the spread of the gospel. Ironically, as infectious as Covid is, the gospel is even more infectious and both are impacting our world, one for sorrow and the other for joy.
First, Covid has disrupted almost all of ministry. In doing so it has also caused Christian leaders to rethink what is truly important and how they can adapt and focus on what God has called the church to do and to be. There is no disruption that does not create opportunity to rethink, recalibrate and refocus.
For too long we have focused on church size and programs more perhaps than on discipleship and the involvement of each one in ministry according to their God given gifting. We have assumed that church attendance equaled spiritual maturity.
One thing we can be certain of. The church will never go back to where it was pre-Covid. It just won't. Many have decided they don't need church for their spiritual lives. Others will simply do church on-line. This creates an opportunity for us to rethink what we are doing and why. That is a gift although perhaps an unwelcome one.
Second, digital ministry has the potential to be one of the most potent forces for the gospel in the years to come. The church was forced into digital formats by Covid. Many churches have come to the conclusion that the digital format is not simply a way to reach their own people but to reach beyond their four walls and reach a world that does not know Jesus. Rather than fighting the change, many churches are embracing this change and see it as a significant opportunity to share the gospel with those who don't know.
In fact, when we talk about the gospel being preached to all people before the return of Christ, this is exactly what is happening. Recently I had opportunity to interact with the founder and leader of CCF (Christ's Commission Fellowship) in the Philippines a huge ministry of house churches and mall based congregations. They are now reaching people at an unprecedented level via digital content across the globe and incorporating many into digital fellowships for discipleship. They have embraced this opportunity with enthusiasm and it will be a part of their strategic vision ongoing.
One of the realities in our world is that fewer and fewer people are coming to church out of spiritual curiosity. But almost all are online so is it possible that in God's sovereign plan, the church was forced to go online in an unprecedented way allowing the Good News to multiply in exponential ways? I fully believe this to be the case. It is also the case that in many cases, those who experience an online service will find their way into a local congregation as is happening with the church I attend, Forest City Church in Rockford and Elgin, IL. Look up Tiny Church on You Tube.
We didn't ask for or desire Covid. But nothing happens in our world, good or bad, which does not first pass by the hands of God and which He does not use to build His church. He is doing that today - as He always has.