By Brian Donahue
Pursuit Friends Church
If you’re like me, a church planting pastor who is trying to gain or maintain momentum heading into the Easter season, this whole Corona virus thing is unsettling to say the least. The thought of a smaller congregation not meeting on Sunday mornings for services, even for a few short weeks, seems like insanity!
However, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m convinced that God is going to use this for His glory, and we may be facing the next great awakening/revival in our country.
Think about it. Many churches across the United States and even the world have been forced to livestream their services for the first time. Others have had the ability to do so but have been encouraged, through this situation to finally get it going. Other churches, in particular, smaller churches with more limited resources are pushing forward with livestream alternatives like Facebook LIVE and even YouTube.
We’re figuring out as a collective the best way to minister to our congregants. We’re trying to figure out how to stay connected and focused on the mission of God. But there’s a silver lining to this thing that we cannot ignore!
In the process of getting online church figured out, we are exponentially growing the potential of our outreach and impact as ministries and churches for the expansion of the gospel!
We need not be afraid of losing congregants to the convenience of online church. I believe that, when this current situation passes, our people will be more eager to gather as the body of Christ than ever before. Plus, we will have done something we should have been doing long before now…using a powerful and incredibly relevant tool for spreading the gospel to as many people as possible.
Too many pastors and churches have resisted the idea of streaming services out of a fear and/or concern that people would forsake the gathering of the saints. Gathering in person is very important and should not be disregarded out of the convenience of not having to leave your house. What arrogance and insensitivity we have been walking in as we ignore those who cannot physically leave their homes for physical health reasons or mental health reasons and the list goes on!
That’s just the body of Christ aspect of this thing! What about those who might happen to come upon the feed as they’re online? What if they linger long enough to catch something of the hope that is found in Christ alone? What if they hear the gospel for the first time?
At first, I was taken aback at the notion of possibly not having to meet. We are a new church plant growing and looking towards launching in the fall. We are pushing 50 people and fall well beneath the ban on gatherings of 100 or more people, but we still have to be concerned for what’s in the best interest of our people and the community at large. It’s a very hard and frustrating thing to think about and decide upon.
But then I began to feel the move of the Spirit upon my heart as I was reminded about the sovereignty of God. He is still in control and always works all things together for the good of those who love and serve Him!
Another aspect of this thing is online giving. If you don’t have online giving set up, it’s simply time to proceed with this aspect of ministry and relent to the changing times and culture we live in. Online giving is absolutely necessary in this day and age. It gives your church more potential for giving and makes it convenient for people who are out of state or even country who might desire to sow into your church or ministry. It also opens up the possibility of those who might decide to watch your livestream weekly to feel a part of your fellowship by being able to tithe or give offerings.
We should not shy away from this thing. To do so would show a lack of sensitivity to discerning the culture and times we live in. Besides, there’s nothing anti-biblical about streaming or recording services online.
Here’s the real heart of what I’m trying to express: I believe that what the devil meant for evil, God is going to use for good! As hard and even gut-wrenching as it is not to gather on Sundays for, hopefully, only a few shorts weeks, the expansion of the gospel online is worth it!
It’s like God has given the body of Christ an opportunity to get more creative and use this adversity to grow the kingdom!
The church I’m planting and pastoring, Pursuit Friends Church, has been going through the book of Acts. We are seeing that every time there is a great move of the Spirit or persecution or adversity, there is the expansion of the gospel. The church grew because of the hardship!
I believe that we will actually see our churches grow during this time if we faithfully proclaim the gospel of hope and salvation in effective and creative ways as we work this troubling time in the world. If we walk by faith and not by fear, if we trailblaze and if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, the gospel will actually spread more quickly and with more impact and authority!
God has got this! He is still sovereign! Fear is from the devil and the devil is a liar!
We need to be smart and stay as safe as possible, but we need to make sure that we are not mixing the “American Dream” with our faith. There is a level of risk that we often forsake or ignore in the United States when it comes to our Christianity. We don’t like to be uncomfortable. That has got to change!
Now is the time to rise up and boldly proclaim the hope we have in Jesus. Now is the time for us to reach into our communities, perhaps for the first time in a long time, in order to shine the light of Christ in dark places.
I hope you are preparing your church and your heart for the revival and great awakening that is upon us!