I agree with my colleagues who say that this pandemic has jolted us five years into the future. In early 2019, small struggling congregations still had time to discern missional ministry shifts to keep them going beyond their historical purpose. In early 2019, healthy dinosaurs had time to figure out what was keeping people away and what was welcoming new believers into the fold.
COVID-19 changed all this. Suddenly with the requirement that worship happen online and The Work of the Church involved serving our local neighbors who lost their jobs, homes, and basic lifestyle (hello homeschooling) it became clear that the institutional Church has been forced to make decisions before they expected.
- Congregations on the cusp of closing made that decision earlier than expected since they didn’t have the capacity to thrive on YouTube.
- Congregations wringing their hands over the decision to build affordable housing realized that This Was The Time to provide for those in need.
- Congregations debating the whole “let’s do things the way we’ve always done it” versus “let’s take the leap to be God’s hands and feet in our community” were forced to resolve the debate sooner than they expected.
As I’ve written before, congregations who were thriving before the pandemic continued to thrive after the pandemic and congregations who were struggling before the pandemic were practically dying after the pandemic started.
Time travel. We have projected into the future at least five years.
I share this comment with all love and respect:
This is the time to consider (now) what God is calling us to do and be.
Some tell me that “this is not the time” to invest church endowment money into affordable housing. This is exactly the time to invest in affordable housing.
Some tell me that “this is not the time” to start new mission ventures. Actually this is precisely the time to start new mission ventures.
Time travel helps us to realize what we should have done and what we could still do with the benefit of a cosmic opportunity. Let’s not waste this opportunity of having a pandemic and being forced to quarantine and make some pivots.
God is good. God has offered us this opportunity to do a new thing. Let’s do that.