Well, one hopes that anything like the current COVID-19 crisis is to be encountered only once in a lifetime.
Never has so much happened so soon that affects churches. The World Trade Center attack, Shuttle disasters, JFK/MLK/RFK assassinations, Pearl Harbor, and other singular events didn’t impact the Sunday-to-Sunday existence of churches as has the virus. I don’t recall what churches did during the flu epidemic a century ago.
I’m immune in a number of ways. Not being an active pastor there are no church decisions to be made or leadership to be asserted. I don’t have to be concerned with a payroll or a budget shortfall. I’m not watching my retirement fund shrink (I did that a decade ago). I am being scolded for not hunkering down in my survival bunker/domicile but will try to be more serious.
My church, with energetic pastoral leadership, had made some quick changes.
- The transition to online worship was simple. We’ve been doing such things for years.
- A good portion of giving is already online, though it remains to be seen if there will be any serious reduction in giving.
- The church has shifted focus to local missions, among other new measures we’re working with local schools to be a point where meals are delivered and picked up by kids who used to get them at schools.
- We’ve added two major food distributions where several tons of food will be given away. We already do one each month.
- I’m told we’re on a “Coronavirus” budget but don’t know all that is meant there. I assume it means there are additional things planned locally and non-essential spending is frozen.
This, seems to me, is a particularly local church-centered crisis and response. I’m not sure what our seminaries can do other than take care of their faculty, staff, and students. I don’t know what state conventions can do other than pray and encourage. The impact of this reaches all corners of the state. IMB is particularly well positioned to handle such things with their worldwide distribution of personnel. NAMB has plenty of funds available to bolster SEND Relief but I’m not sure what their plans and goals are at this early stage.
Business as usual for the SBC, which includes far too heavy a dose of denominational politics (Who will be elected in June? What’s the new CBN group up to? Who’s pulling strings here and there?), seems to have been postponed.
The fall election? Second page news, if folks still read newspapers.
I’m curious if churches will be seen in your community as hunkering down in survival mode or going over-the-top and assaulting the problems that present themselves locally. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to minister in a non-routine situation.
I’ve been fussed-at, scolded, and rebuked for not hanging out at the house all the time. I’m doing better but am reduced to pulling weeds, tidying up the basement…and blogging.
My pastor is a ball of fire. I told him when this is all over, maybe we could send him on a cruise. There are some deals to be had right now.
The food bank sent a pallet of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes many of which had basketball-themed decorations. Guess there isn’t much of a demand for those this year.
My prayers for all of my colleagues, particularly those who are church pastors and staff.