Adapting in a time of crisis

A Reflection on Acts 2:42-47 and the modern Church during Covid-19

18 May 2020

This week, I was reflecting on the Church (all churches – for my studies); the functions of the Church as it was in the Early Church as seen in Acts compared to the functions of the Modern Church, as we are living it now (or least as we experienced it before the Covid19 pandemic and during the lockdown), and I started wondering, where has our passion gone. When did we stop being passionate followers of Jesus and started becoming a passerby to God’s Church?

Where is the fervor that the early Church experienced? They experienced being Church in circumstances that lead to death, the Messiah has just been Crucified, Resurrected and has been visiting with them, before leaving them.  They had to endure persecution, prison, ridicule amongst many things. But they did what Jesus Christ taught them to do, with all the hearts and minds and souls. With passion burning in their hearts and souls!

They did what was theirs to do, “with Faith not Fear” (-Fr. Andrew Manning)

There are some truly authentic spiritual leaders out there, doing what they have been sanctified to do, with genuine servant hearts. A lot of of them are working alone, giving up everything, including their families and their health, to keep their flocks together. Doing the work of many people…

Then there are others, who have given up, who are waiting out the pandemic, who fears more for themselves than for others. Who are waiting to get back to how it was before…

The way we were before … did not work for the Church. But the people is scared of change and they cling to the familiar.

Have Faith not Fear”

Jesus did not leave us alone, He sent us the Holy Spirit, who is with us now, guiding, comforting, and counselling us. We are not alone! And with the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, he is guiding us, to use the gifts of the spirit that has been given us in grace, for the continuation of the mission of God here on earth.

We need to be doing what has been given to us to do, but we need to adapt to the context we are in right now as well. And right now, we are in a crisis. We have had to change how we minister to people and not cling to the past.

In Acts 2:42-47, the early Church was instructed to study the Scriptures, fellowship with each other, share communion, share our excesses with those in need and to tithe, praise and worship, bring people into the community to be saved by Jesus, and perform wonders and signs.

This does sound familiar, … we do all these things in all our churches. Some churches focus more on one thing than another, depending on the denomination we are part of.

But are we passionate about what we do?

Are we really?

During this lockdown, when the Church buildings has been closed off, what have you done, to continue serving the Lord and each other? Or are you just sitting there, wondering when things will get “back to normal”

My friends, we will never be back to normal, things have changed forever. There is a stirring in the air we breath, there is a stirring within us, there is a stirring up of the flames of our passion, to serve others and Christ! Don’t allow this to die down, or worse die out! We are being transformed into a new way of “Being” Church. The way we are serving the community now, will continue, even when we return to the physical church building and in person services. We must accept the new normal in God’s Church.

A couple of months ago, I read Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven life”, where he talks about the Functions of the Modern Church. He lists these five functions, which is in theory, the same as the early church functions.

  • Worship
  • Serving Ministry
  • Evangelism
  • Fellowship
  • Discipleship

I would like to expand on these functions.

Worship

To love God with all your heart – Experiencing God in everything we do.

What can we do?

Prayer.

You can continue praying, on your own and in corporate prayer.

Our Church has started Morning and Evening Prayers daily on Zoom. This was not done before Covid19, the response was surprising and wonderful. Not everyone joins these prayer meetings, but that is OK! This is also something that will continue post lockdown, as the benefits of the communal prayers has done great things for our community. You do not have to host prayer meetings like this, just join in and you can pray quietly on your own, you are still helping your community. Think about joining an intercessory team, where you can pray for the sick and especially for your Pastor during this time. We forget how powerful prayer is, this is the best way to build our relationship with God, and it is the way Jesus taught us to be in communion with God. Jesus said that when we ask, God will provide, we just need to ask.

Worship with songs and music.

Maybe you have a gift for writing music, or you can play an instrument, you have a voice. Record something and share it with the community. You do not need expensive equipment to record yourself singing a song, you can just do it on your phone. I have personally experienced an upliftment of my spirit, when listening to gospel music. So, when you are feeling low, listen to something happy and feel the joy of praising God through music.

Online “live” services; take part in some of the services and prayer meetings that is available online. Your church will have several different ways that they communicate with you. It could be a phone call, message, Zoom, YouTube video, newsletters and so on. Find out what your church has available and join. If they do not have anything like this, then suggest something or start something yourself.

Fellowship

Helping people to “belong” by going, baptising, and teaching – take part in fellowship with family and others.

  • Loving, Caring & belonging; bring people into the community, help them feel as though they belong to this family.
  • Build relationships with people, especially those that is on the outskirts of the community. Become friends with someone who you have hardly or never spoken to before.
  • Fun and fellowship; contact people around you, even if it is just a message or a picture, let them know that you are thinking of them.
  • Find out of anyone needs help; they could be starving, or sickly and needs to get to a doctor.

Evangelism

“Go and make disciples” and bring them to the church – soul-winning.

  • Witness to things that God has done for you, do not keep quiet about it. I find it funny, that people are quick to say “have you heard what the Kardashian have done?” but you never hear “Have you heard what Jesus has done for us”! We need to be brave and say out loud, what God has done for us; it might be something big, like a cure for an illness, or something small. Tell people about it, if you are shy to share, then just tell your pastor. I am sure, that your pastor is longing to hear from someone, that had a prayer answered.
  • Outreach campaigns: do you know what outreach programs your Church is responsible for? Have you asked? Do they have a Facebook page, and do you like and share their posts? Do you have ideas about outreach, but need help to facilitate it? Ask you pastor, or other leaders in the Church to help you, and make those suggestions, start something yourself.
  • Altar Calls: When the pastor or other leaders in the church, asks for volunteers or for someone to help or even manage a project, stick your hand up and do something, stand up and say yes I will help. Maybe you don’t want to, that is OK, but maybe you know someone else who would be able to help, let them know about it.

Serving Ministry

To love your neigbour as yourself, and serve them – Social

  • Stand up for social injustice in our society, let someone know that something is wrong, report crime, do your part in the community
  • Recognise the needs in the community and do something about it; maybe there is a couple who lights have been off for a week, that might need help. There are lots of hungry people on the street, have you committed to help with feeding them, even if it is to donate funds to your church to help buy supplies to feed them.
  • Be committed to serving the people, in any way you can. It may be that all you need to do is make a couple of phone calls a week.
  • Take action; whatever the situation, problem or issue, take action, do something about it.  Do not just sit back and accept things for what they are. I will quote an example that my pastor likes to use (paraphrased) “If you walk down the garden path, and you spot all the weeds growing through the paving stones, then you are probably meant to be weeding that path. Don’t complain about it, do something about it.”

Discipleship

Teaching people to understand God’s way and obey God – Education and growth – edification of someone.

  • Teaching scriptural truths
  • Expository preaching.
    • Expository preaching is a form of preaching that details the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture.
  • Study of the Bible and doctrine.
  • Discipleship; doing all the above and making another a disciple. “Become one and make one”

We need to stop wishing that the lockdown is over, so that we can return to our church (building). We ARE the Church, every single one of us, is an important part of the living Church. We all have an important part in Being Church. We need to adapt to this new way of doing and being Church.

This is not the end! This is just the beginning, we need to grab this opportunity with both hands and take possession of it, and make the mission of the Church work in this new context, this new crisis, this new way of Being Church.

Admittedly, I am just waking up to the possibilities of ministry in this new way of being Church. And the possibilities are endless!

We need to stop making excuses and make it work!

May God bless you abundantly in your journey with God and this new way of Being.

  • Vanda Chittenden

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