Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Ministry After Corona

As some churches resume in-person meetings, church leaders have noticed that not everyone is eager to return. Understandably, there are people in high-risk categories that won’t return until there is a vaccine. Others, such as caretakers or nursing home employees, may want to take extra precautions. However, some are going about their everyday business and aren’t meeting with their brothers and sisters in Christ. There is something wrong when a person is willing to go to a grocery store, restaurant, barber, little league game, etc. but not attend worship. Church leaders may want to play the blame game, but this will not help the situation, nor will it fix the problem. Instead, church leaders should look at what ministry changes they can make to best address these problems.

Many of the problems churches are facing were not created by the pandemic. The last few months have revealed issues that were present before COVID-19. Ministry leaders are feeling stressed because of these problems and others. It is not pleasant to have a new set of problems dropped on your lap in the middle of a pandemic. Shepherds are burdened because tending the flock has become more challenging. It is not surprising that church leaders are feeling more anxiety than they were six months ago. At the same time, these new revelations should be viewed as a blessing. Six months ago, many churches did not know what the problems were or how big they are. Now, we know. Now, we can do something about it.

Here are five ways forward as we seek to do ministry after the coronavirus.

Being Faithful Requires More Than One Hour on Sunday – The Sunday morning worship assembly is a central part of the Christian faith, but there is more to Christianity than this one hour on the first day of the week. What makes a person Christian? What distinguishes them from someone who hasn’t devoted their life to Christ? For some, it is what they do on Sunday morning, and that is it. If people in our pews think Christianity is only about attending a weekly worship service and nothing more, then we have failed. If Christianity does not extend beyond this one hour on Sunday, then it is easy to see why some have no difficulty staying home. Christianity should touch every aspect of life. It should be hard to walk away from the Christian faith because it is who we are. It is where we find our identity. Churches must stress the importance of weekly assembly while also showing how Christianity is essential to everything we do.

The Church’s Mission Is to Make Disciples – We are called to make disciples. This is what the Great Commission requires (Matt. 28:19). We have sometimes confused this calling with baptizing a person. We may teach a person about Christianity and then baptize them and do nothing else. If this is all we do, then we are not fulfilling the Great Commission. We are getting people wet, but we are not making disciples. If we have a church full of people who have never been discipled, then it shouldn’t be surprising when some of them drop out. Every church needs to have a model for discipleship and be actively engaged in discipleship. We need to do more than get people wet. We need to convert people to Jesus and show them how to walk in his footsteps.

Churches Must Be Able to Adapt – Many churches are realizing what they are doing is not working. These congregations will either adapt or die. This is not a call for churches to change doctrine and embrace the culture around them. These adaptations will only create more problems. Instead, congregations need to look at what they are doing and be willing to change. It might be discipleship has been neglected, or the church has failed to serve its neighbors. Maybe there are few opportunities to build Christian relationships. If what a church is doing is not working, then they must be humble enough to look at their practices and change.

Bodily Presence Is a Requirement of Church – There was a lot of excitement around virtual church several months ago when some congregations were going online for the first time. We have discovered new ways of ministering to people. Churches have reached people they would have never reached before. This is great, but hopefully, we have also come to realize the value of physical presence. Two thousand years ago, Jesus took on flesh and blood to minister to people. Christians come together every week to partake of real bread and real wine. One of the central tenants of the Christian faith is bodily resurrection. We must be careful not to deemphasize the physical nature of Christianity. Our physical presence matters. It matters at a wedding. It matters when someone dies, and it matters when the church comes together. Watching online is not the same as being assembled with fellow Christians in the same space. Christians should regularly break bread together. We should serve together and pray together. In a world saturated with Zoom meetings, we must take the time and make the effort to be together in person with one another.

Spiritual Formation Is Not Optional – We must grow as Christians. If we do not, then we have missed what Christianity is all about. We are being transformed into the image of Jesus. If this is not taking place, then we are not practicing Christianity. One of the reasons churches might be experiencing problems is because they have not emphasized spiritual formation. Christians need help in reaching spiritual maturity. Church leaders should be engaged in practicing spiritual disciplines and encouraging others to do the same. These ancient Christian practices should be found among every body of believers. They should be taught in classes. They should be proclaimed from the pulpit. They should be practiced communally and individually. A church is a community where people find help and encouragement in becoming like Christ.

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