Post Covid-19 Re-Launch Coming: A Story for Consideration
Surveys will be going out to church members this week as we seek to prepare for re-launch after this long period of shared shut down due to the Covid-19 crisis. A re-launch is not the same as 're-opening.' Re-opening implies returning to normal activities, focuses and practices after a period of shut down, in other words, 'business as usual.'
A re-launch implies a renewed focus, a fresh start and a new trajectory.
Look for the surveys in the days ahead. Please fill those out and return immediately. Instructions will be given as to how to do that.
During this national time of time out, many professing believers have indicated they have learned profound personal lessons from the Lord. It has been a time of refining and pruning and clarifying.
Believers have stated they have remembered the importance of family, of having a proper relationship to work-work as gift, not as god. Stories of the rediscovery of the joy and value of family meals and time together are wonderful to hear.
Christians have stated they have rediscovered the primacy of the gospel, the necessity of sharing Christ, the importance of staying in prayer and in God's Word, of staying focused on Christ and His Kingdom. Churches have said 'when we return to 'normal,' whatever the new 'normal' will be, we are not going to be the same.'
I pray that this is true for churches across America.
As you wait for surveys and for the re-launch to be announced, I hope you will stay in prayer, and, for your edification, here is a story to consider.
Let he who has ears to hear......
Growing up, he went to youth camp most every year. Every summer he would arrive at camp with a mixed sense of excitement and dread. He was excited to go to camp because there were girls at camp, and his friends and fun to be had and it was a great break from the monotony of summer jobs and the repetiveness of long, south Texas summers.
There was dread in a sense because he knew things in his heart weren't right. He knew he was playing games with God and he knew he was good at rationalizing it all. He also knew that every year at camp, around Thursday night, after four nights with little sleep, nonstop stimulation and activity during the day, really bad camp food and flat out exhaustion, the camp evangelist would deliver 'the message,' that powerful one he had been saving, and with the defenses lowered, he would have to face himself and his problems and the junk inside and he'd likely join hundreds of other teenagers and rededicate his life.
And after returning from camp, all the parents said 'amen!' and 'praise God for the changes in our kids! 'God is working!'
And all the youth, from the jocks to the kids in band and choir to the outsiders and all of those in between, the loners and the popular kids, everyone 'loved one another' and got along, because 'friends are friends forever if the Lord is Lord of them,' and all the youth said 'this is so true. It's awesome. We'll always be friends. We'll never return to the things we did before.'
Once home, the days passed into weeks, and normal activities resumed. There were distractions and summer jobs and the lure of all of the friends who didn't go to camp. In time, the new 'forever friends' tolerated each other when they bumped into one other at church, and many, not all, but many of those who rededicate their lives, went back to their old ways of living.
He did. He did each year. Oh, there were outlliers, those young people who continued to walk with God and stay focused. These kids would reach out to him and to his friends to 'touch base' and invite them to youth parties and Wednesday night services, but 'seriously?' he thought, 'I don't have anything in common with these people. I prefer my old friends anyway. Camp was fun, but life goes on.'
And many of his friends said the same thing, did the same thing. They'd bump into each other at church services each week. Their parents didn't give them the option of skipping out on church. When they saw one other they'd stay in their tribe and go through the motions. They knew what to say and how to say it to placate their teachers and youth ministers, but by the middle of September, they were living just as they had (and so was he) before summer camp.
And this year, thousands of churches stopped gathering in facilities becuase of Covid-19. It was the honorable thing to do. Love does not harm others. This pandemic was and still is an unknown in many ways.
And people soon found themselves working from home. They found all their normal routines changed.
And in that time, they were changed.
'God has shown me just how important family is. I'm not sacrificing my family on the altar of work any longer!'
And the family said 'Amen!'
And parents and kids said 'we forgot how great it was to have family time and dinner together. We'll never go back to the old ways. Family dinner and time together is the new normal.'
And everyone said 'Amen!'
And churches said 'oh, we miss our brothers and sisters. We'll never take one another for granted again! We'll only speak to build up and bless. We'll honor each other! Oh, how we miss one another!'
And God's people shouted 'Praise the Lord!'
And the people of God also said, 'Look at how people are responding to the gospel! We lost focus of the main things: making disciples and equipping the saints! We'll never play church again! We're staying on mission!'
And all the people shouted 'Amen and Praise the Lord !'
And during that time, churches said 'prayer is so vital. Small groups so important. Corporate worship is so important! Time in the Word is so vital-we're going to focus on the main things. We're not going to get sidetracked on dumpster fires and small, petty, personal things.'
And everyone said 'Amen!'
And then, in time, the people regathered.
I wonder what will happen across America in these churches?
Grace to You,
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