We are living in unprecedented times with COVID-19. Uncertainty is the predominant word and fear runs rampant. Yet our God is big and all-powerful. I believe God desires to see a genesis of gospel growth on the other side of this crisis like the world has never seen. Now is your time to pray, prepare, and mobilize!
Be the Church outside the church (serve)
This is where you gain a voice in the community! The natural tendency of the Church for centuries has been to turn inward and not serve outwardly. If there has ever been a moment in our lifetime for believers to invest in their community and earn the right to share Jesus, this is it. Pray and seize the day!
But realize the real coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has not yet hit. I agree with Ed Stetzer’s comment, “Going online for worship and Bible is not your crisis.” The real crisis is going to be when someone in your church or family passes, when the financially challenged cannot buy enough food for their family, or if churches are forced to start laying off staff members.
Today is the time to mobilize your church so that you can meet the overwhelming needs that are coming after COVID-19! Some pastors are marginalizing the moment, saying they will “figure it out.” Please understand, most local churches were built for winter, not a blizzard. You must begin today preparing for the blizzard and praise God if we only experience the winter.
Consider the following practical ideas to serve your community: work with local and state agencies to battle COVID-19; minister to the elderly; allow local officials to use your facility for relief efforts; contact local hospitals to see how you can assist; pray for local leaders and publicly praise efforts being made to protect and maintain order; mobilize your Sunday School or Life Group system to minister. There are several ways you can minister to others. Here are a few articles to give you ideas:
Provide online options for corporate and groups engagement (balance)
Ok. This is a no brainer for some, but most churches were not prepared for this pivot prior to the COVID-19 quarantine. Many churches are praising the effectiveness of online streaming worship and the incredible value of groups interacting online. Consider Carey Nieuwhof’s comment. He says that church leaders need to focus on “the meaning, the message, and the connection more than the production.” I agree! The quality in production will come with time.
We have spoken with several churches, large and small, who saw their largest attendance ever this past Sunday simply because they are thinking beyond borders and engaging online. Our team at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board has provided many videos that share everything you need to know to stream your service really well and get your groups engaging online.
Equip your members to give ‘em Jesus (reach)
Oh. My. Goodness! Our church members need to know how to effectively share their faith and lead someone to Jesus. An evangelist friend says often, “Stop overthinking it, just give em’ Jesus!”
Leaders, one of our main privileges is to equip the saints to do the work of the church (Ephesians 4). Consider the following as you make the most of the opportunity to minister in your communities during and after COVID-19:
- People in your community are lonely, hurting, and looking for answers.
- Crisis many times brings an openness to the gospel.
- The task of the local Church is to meet needs and make disciples.
It’s time to advance! Dr. Levi Skipper, the Evangelism catalyst for the GBMB, has developed a witnessing tool that works and is simple. It is strong and leaders all over Georgia are using it with great results. I hope you will check it out here: nosweatevangelism.com. He also shares ways to evangelize during this crisis in this article.
Consider a new church model? (multiply)
Not so fast my friend! I encourage you to conduct an assessment of your current disciple-making potential before you make drastic changes. Alternatively, do not try to revive what was not alive! If you are in a church that is plateaued or in decline, you may want to consider a new model. My dad once said, “Son, it doesn’t take a master mechanic to know that if the tractor ain’t workin’, fix it or get a new one.”
Is your disciple-making process working? If not, you would do well to sit down with one of my discipleship consultants living in your region to assess your church’s health. We can help you find a solution, not focus on the problems. Click here to see a list of those consultants with contact information.
Maybe it’s time to ask new questions. Are you effectively engaging unbelievers and the unchurched? Are you giving guests a clear pathway to become a disciple of Jesus and to multiply that experience? Does your community know that you exist other than for what you are against? We can help you move forward if you are willing to pivot.
Empower leaders/parents to be disciple-makers (teach)
Gracious. We have tried for decades, with little success, to help parents understand their role as the #1 discipler of their children! Then COVID-19 hit and hundreds of thousands of public school parents became homeschool parents. What? Many will say that homeschooling is not for them. Well maybe that is the case. However, I can assure you that every parent is a model and every parent is to be a disciple-maker.
One local church leader shared with me that the virus outbreak has caused parents at his church to rethink their role as a parent. Praise God! The leader was able to come alongside parents and equip them to do what God has called each of us as parents to do – disciple our children from the Word of God.
Focus the method to achieve the mission (lead)
Leaders, is the health of your church dependent on your members to show up weekly face-to-face in a corporate gathering to hear a monologue? Is your method of ministry consistently reaching and discipling people in your community? For too long we have engaged the false narrative that church attendance would lead our people to spiritual maturity. For example, I grew up believing an unspoken – but very real – and unproductive discipleship philosophy. It went something like this:
- If you go to church, you are a good Christian and God will bless you.
- If you go to big church and Sunday school, well, you are just incredible – the kinda kid we want our child to marry!
- If you attend worship, Sunday school, and serve on a service team, then you must be called to ministry because nobody really does that.
What in the world?
Friends, it’s time we teach our people what a biblical disciple looks like, focus our disciple-making methods to achieve the goal, and then give accountability to maintain momentum. Leaders, this is our calling. If we fail at anything, it must not be in the area of making disciples of Jesus!
Closing: Time to advance and not evacuate!
Position your church and family in the midst of the crisis for big gospel impact following the quarantine. Our discipleship consultants at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board are contacting hundreds of pastors and leaders every day. We are eager to serve and give guidance. Plan to thrive, not just survive!
Scott Sullivan serves as Discipleship catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.