Our theological convictions tell us that none of this is happening by happenstance, but by the very hand of God. So, one question we can ask is: What does this crisis make possible? God works all things for the good for His children, not that He might not have disciplinary intentions in mind for His church by using this virus, because I believe He does, but that's another article. The question I want to focus on right now is what good things might also be made possible by this current situation? Because we could use a little good new these days, right?
Well, it's already made several things possible here at Center Church.
As we began live-streaming on March 15, what I noticed during our first broadcast (even with the glitch of not plugging in the camera) is that it kept our congregation connected to each other. Our attendance that first Sunday was above average and most everyone who attends regularly attended either physically or online. Not only that, but just as those who were present physically interacted and fellowshipped with one another, those online responded to one another also.
So, online fellowship is possible. Biblically, I don't think it's a replacement for gathering together face to face, but it certainly can provide a temporary substitute both now and in the future for those who are unable to make it in person to the service for one reason or another.
The other thing I noticed was that our Facebook live-steam engaged over 450 people online. We even had someone who watched from Minnesota. This might open up avenues of ministry for us that we had never considered. (Had I known this, we would have been live-streaming from day one.) Who knows? Someday we could have an online campus in another state that gathers together and worships.
Wednesday Evening Online Series
Since some of our small groups aren't meeting right now, beginning next Wednesday I'll be teaching a new series online, live-streaming on Facebook. This series will be different from our Sunday morning series. Right now I plan on teaching from the letter of 1 John.
Currently, our financial reserve is two months ahead. Our goal is to reach a three month reserve. Well, our giving the first Sunday after losing our regular meeting location was right on par with most Sundays in the past. Think of the possibility here. Since we do not have to pay for facility rental at this time, the offerings we receive in the next several weeks (or however long this lasts) could accumulatively reach our financial goal. In other words, when the facility opens up to us again we could begin with a financial reserve of three months. (Again, this is a great time to set-up online giving if you haven't.)
As A. W. Tozer put it, “A frightened world needs a fearless church.” We need to be aware of friends, coworkers or neighbors and what they're feeling, determining how we can best minister to their anxieties. We also need to be aware of people who become too isolated and reach out to let them know that we care. If you can, do it in person. But if that's not possible, at least call. We know that social distancing is our current reality, but isolation can have negative effects on people.
So, what was meant for evil could actually turn out to have some God-ordained positive effects.
Right now, we're just mentioning a few positive things, because we all need to keep our heads up and truly trust that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.