It’s no secret that we’re in the middle of a global health crisis due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus. At this point, most of us have been instructed to stay in our homes and practice social distancing. Soon after this began, churches began to ask the question, “What do we do?”
That question propelled our church into an ongoing dialog. We further asked:
What does it look like to do our services online?
What does it look like to do ministry throughout the week?
How much content do we produce?
How do we help those who aren’t connected?
Our answers led to us taking our existing plans for student ministry and moving them online. Essentially, we are encouraging our students to attend our online worship services, moving small groups onto video chat services, ramping up our social media presence, emailing parents once a week with vital information/resources, and connecting with students/leaders throughout the week through text messaging and phone calls. You can read more about that by clicking here.
During these days of quarantine, I’m online even more than ever, and I’ve noticed a trend among churches and student ministries. Many are producing a steady stream of content on a regular basis. Not only have many moved their entire church service online, they’ve also begun putting out daily videos and scheduling daily online events for their youth group.
This leads me to two thoughts:
- Why do we feel this need to produce so much content?
- Why do we feel like we need to match what everyone else is doing?
The truth is that our content has the potential to get drowned out during this online boom of digital content that’s stemming from every direction.
After thinking over these two questions for a while, two more popped in my head:
- If we didn’t do ministry in this way before, why do it now?
- How should the church change now and moving forward?
I am definitely not suggesting we don’t change. I just wonder if some of those changes are correct. This is what led me to that second question.
Just like we teach our students, when we have questions, we need to go to the Bible. When I read Jesus’ teachings and see the examples of the early church, there seems to be two things that stand out. And I believe these are two things that we should focus on even after this current health crisis ends. Perhaps they become our filters. They could even answer the question of what should church look like moving forward. And maybe, it’s what church should have looked like all along…
People desire community. Throughout history, it is hard to ignore this truth. We have searched for it in a number of places. And today, with everyone connected through the internet, you would think the problem has been solved. But it hasn’t. My presumption is that people are looking for community even more than ever. We may not be able to compete with the world in entertainment and other areas, but we have the ability to truly connect people: both to God and others. The community that can exist within God’s church is far greater (at least it should be) than any other group in the world. So how are we focusing on that now and moving forward?
People need purpose. The age-old question about the meaning of life goes back for decades, if not centuries. You know as well as I do that we have the answer to that question. We know why we exist. How are we passing that along to others? The world desperately needs to know there is a reason we live. We can find some level of purpose in a number of things, but that which comes from God is unmatched. We know this, so how are we sharing that with others and empowering/equipping them to live out their purpose? Further, how are we helping people go beyond general purpose, helping them find their specific purpose?
Worship services are great, but I feel we have put too much focus on the “weekend experience” over the last several decades, at least in the western church. And, in many ways, we have worked ourselves into a corner. When a crisis happens, we are left wondering how to “do church” without a building or a stage. Maybe we just film it and put it online? Maybe we just go live every day of the week? Maybe we become an online TV studio?
I’m not saying all of these things are wrong. There are certainly very good intentions behind these responses, and God can still use them to do amazing things. In fact, we’ve seen that happen over the last few weeks.
What I am saying is that times like these create a need for reevaluation. What is the true focus of the church? Why are we here? What does Christ want His bride to do? I’m not saying our worship services need to stop, but I am saying that maybe it’s time for us to sit at Jesus’ feet and ask what He is calling us to do during these rapidly changing times.
Create community and provide purpose.
How are you doing in these two areas? How are you avoiding the temptation to produce tons of content to keep up with everyone else? How are you truly ministering to people? And how are you staying focused on the things that really matter?