You might not realize it, but you’re an expert.
No one has ever faced a situation like this before. Seriously. Never.
Certainly, you can go back in history, as many have over the past few weeks, to find and learn from examples of saints who endured pandemics such as the Spanish Flu or the Bubonic Plague. But never before has the Christian community experienced a pandemic while simultaneously being so incredibly connected to one another, and the world around us, thanks to the Internet.
And that means that there are no experts. There can’t be.
In the same way that the data around the coronavirus remains both complex and fluid, so our circumstances as churches and ministries and our responses to it will be complex, fluid, and perhaps most importantly, unique to who you are as a ministry and your community.
No one knows those factors better than you, and there is great comfort in that. These are known quantities in a world full of unknowns, and that makes YOU an expert in your context!
So, for however long the current crisis continues and on into the future, keep being the expert that you are in your ministry and community. After all, “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b ESV)
You’re doing great.
Really, I mean it. You need to know that you’re doing great.
And I don’t just mean that as some sort of blind encouragement.
Generally speaking, the vast majority of churches and ministries that we’ve seen reacting to the coronavirus crisis over the past two weeks are doing a great job of responding to the needs of their communities in new and creative ways. In the face of great uncertainty, and what could be a paralyzing situation, you’ve practiced what you preach: you’ve looked up, and then you’ve looked out – both in love (Matt 22:37-40).
And as you’ve looked out, in many ways, you’ve acted like entrepreneurs: scrambling to understand the need, analyzing your challenges and opportunities, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your communities. Of course, you probably weren’t thinking in those categories and I’m not suggesting that mimicking the business world is the mark of a healthy ministry response to a crisis. But there are simply fundamental truths about how we as humans react to challenges: some are healthy, and others are not, and you’ve chosen the former. You have re-thought how to serve your communities and new ideas have flourished amongst churches and ministries (and are still cropping up), as we find new and creative ways to connect.
A truism that we at Radiant have seen proven over-and-over again in our work, is that the best creativity happens within confines. Limits force us to think differently and explore new methods. The ways in which we are thinking differently today as churches and ministries will impact us for a long, long time.
Certainly, we long for the day when life resumes some form of normalcy; when churches will gather again on Sunday morning’s, pastors will be able to counsel their flocks in person, ministries will re-open, missionaries will return to their mission fields, and donor dollars will be freed up to enable the ongoing work of the gospel in communities worldwide.
But for now, we see you and your creativity, and we applaud what you’ve been doing
By God’s grace, He will carry us through and beyond these days with a new understanding of how we can love Him and our neighbor in the years to come.
Take a load off, look up, and get to work, because it’s not up to you.
Go ahead. Breathe a sigh of relief.
You’re going to get some things wrong. You probably already have. Maybe that email newsletter went out to your church and looked a little ‘sad’ at first. Maybe you tried live streaming a sermon for the first time and the feed was choppy. Perhaps, you’ve engaged in social media in new ways to push content out to your church family and realized how little you know about it.
But you’ve learned as you went, and you’ve gotten better and better, and that’s great!
Even still - it’s not up to you.
In Judges 6:14, God makes this statement to Gideon that always catches my attention when I read that account: “The Lord turned to [Gideon] and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian.’”
What strength did Gideon have? None. And he knew it! You can hear it in his response to God: “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s family.“ There were probably at least a thousand other reasons why he couldn’t deliver Israel as well.
But the key to God telling Gideon to ‘go in the strength he had’ wasn’t Gideon’s strength at all, it was the small phrase that God says at the end of verse 14: “I am sending you!“
Friends, the battle is won, and it was never up to you. Sure, these are hard days, and they could get harder, but they are not days without hope.
Because we know that first-and-foremost in this crisis, God will see his purposes accomplished, and His purposes are always for His glory and our good.
So, take a load off (Matt 6:31-34), look up (Heb 12:1-2), and then get to work (Col 3:23-24).