Crisis and suffering in scripture are never used as a means to better preserve what we consider normal. It is always used to realign the hearts and minds of God’s people to the purposes of God, a deepening through refining. If that doesn’t happen in times of testing, suffering or crisis- we are in danger of wasting the good work of suffering.
We Are In Danger
Church leader/ Pastor Elder, can you feel it? Feel that uncertainty of being launched out into the unknown? We have collectively, in the last month in the North American Church, been forced to try and redefine what we think successful ecclesiology looks like. I’ve heard and have been tempted myself to define success by how many people have checked in, even for 30seconds to an online viewing of our presentations of church. We have tiredly scrambled to try and reproduce the experience of church gathered. Hoping that people will somehow stay loyal to our brand of church or at least feel like their worship experience is close to ‘normal’.
Crisis and suffering in scripture are never used as a means to better preserve what we consider normal. It is always used to realign the hearts and minds of God’s people to the purposes of God, a deepening through refining. If that doesn’t happen in times of testing, suffering or crisis- we are in danger of wasting the good work of suffering. This was the emphasis of PRT 1 of this Article, 4 steps to take now, so we won’t waste this crisis. If we fail to do this we will quickly slip into old paradigms and have very little fruit to show for this time of suffering.
Seven Basic Paradigms This Crisis Reveals In The Church:
Concisely, here are seven basic paradigms that we should confront with some tough questions: Community, Discipleship, Worship, Resources, Evangelism, Culture, Message (in no particular order with the exception of the last one being the most important).
You do this by taking a hard look at your church’s responses as it goes through this current crisis:
Community [Is it lost OR lived?]
What is the sum experience of our church community? Has the church family stopped engaging with each other? Are they waiting for the church staff/pastors/ church leaders to come up with all the solutions to living out community? Has our church community been in a state of limbo, basically lost? OR is our church being compelled to creatively use their gifts and callings to collectively act as living sacrifices as they serve each other? Giving us example after example of people who consider others needs greater than their own?
Romans 12 remains true for the function of the church no matter the climate it finds itself in.
Discipleship [Is it stunted OR flourishing?]
Are our primary means of discipleship stunted at this time or are they just starting to take off towards flourishing? Are we seeing our people pressing into deeper means of discipleship for their own growth and taking initiative for the growth of others during this time? Is our church sharing resources with each other that have proven effective for them in growing closer to Christ? OR are our people mostly sharing what they are binge watching, superficial christian platitudes, and politically slanted conspiracies? Are they spinning in empty habits of junk rest while their leaders are scrambling to keep some form of attractive online programs to lure them to at least pick up the Bible?
Even in crisis, we are still required to be pressing an Ephesians 3 level of the truth of Christ into the lives of each other “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”