With the Coronavirus closing mass gatherings, such as church services, here are sometips on how the Church (i.e. Christ’s people) can continue its unshakable mission. Church on Sunday may get cancelled but that does not stop God’s people doing His will.
The mission: Love
The two great commandments Jesus gave His Church are to love God and love others. These form the framework for people to honour Him. The times may change but God’s mission does not. God is steadfast and, as the Book of James says, “[God] does not change like shifting shadows.” From this position of confidence in a good God who has proven His goodness on the cross we can be confident of the mission ahead.
Tip 1: Bible study
Loving God means learning more about who He is and what He has done for us. Following a Bible reading plan and a daily devotional is one way to love God and build this relationship. For a free Bible App www.biblesociety.org.au/the-bible/ or devotional www.odb.org. There are also a host of audio Bibles if reading is an issue. The key is that Bible reading is essentialto learning about God and still possible even when we cannot meet together physically.
Tip 2: Preaching
The Book of Revelation (chapter 12) explains that the Church wins over its enemies by the “blood of the Lamb and the power of their testimony.” The proclamation of “the blood of the Lamb” is what preaching is all about. It is explaining the Good News about who Jesus is and what He has done for us. This was Jesus’ mission: to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Jesus displayed this when He preached at Synagogues reading Old Testament passages and explaining how these pointed to Himself.
The same pattern works today as a way to learn more about Jesus. Your local church may have online sermons you can listen to or there are a host of useful podcast libraries, such as https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/
The key is to be actively engaged with these sermons: taking notes, discussing themes, reading related Bible passages and praying through these.Listening to good preaching is still possible and essential for loving God.
Tip 3: Sharing
Just as the Book of Revelation (chapter 12) explains about the blood of the Lamb, there is also the call to share this amazing message with others in the word of our testimony. Making a list of people to contact from family, church, work, sport etc. and emailing, calling or even letter writing to them can be a powerful testimony. Include a message of encouragement and a favourite Bible passage to point to the peace you have (e.g. Psalm 23).
Tip 4: Prayer
Being more isolated is an opportunity to spend solid chunks of time in prayer. Christians throughout the ages have grown in their love of God and others through deeper prayer. The Bible is full of some amazing examples of prayer: from crying out to God in suffering, to prayers of great joy, to Jesus’ instructions in the “Lord’s prayer.” It is worth reading some Bible prayers as templates and looking at other prayer resources. One example is https://www.prayermate.net/
Tip 5: Resources
One of the great blessings of Western Christianity is the number of resources we have to grow our love of God and others. As examples here are two books that fit in with Tip 4: prayer. “Praying With Paul - a Call to Spiritual Reformation” by D.A. Carson and “Prayer” by Philip Yancey
Tip 6: Giving
Giving to the work of our local church is our responsibility. Because we cannot meet on Sunday that is not an excuse for holding on to our money. There are various online and direct deposit ways we can support our local church and missionaries.
Tip 7: Getting back
After this wave of Coronavirus disappears the challenge will be to re-connect and return to meeting together. The easiest thing will be to make excuses that meeting face-to-face is not important. However, the core of Jesus’ mission is to show this love of God and others to each other and the world around us. This faith, since Old Testament times, is built on people gathering together to pray together, sing together, read the Bible and hear His Word proclaimed.
During these challenging times Christians have an opportunity to grow their faith in innovative ways. I hope these tips start a conversation among your church communities.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html