No one will argue that the current Covid-19 crisis is a storm. The real question is how long will this storm last and (in our case) how will it affect the Church?
Here are three scenarios:
It’s a storm and nothing more. Like when a bad storm blows through the area, the power may go out; the roads are impassable, but you hunker down. Wait it out. Soon the sun is shining again, and the storm is over. Life goes back to the way it was. Is the coronavirus only a storm?
It’s an entire winter season. Is coronavirus like an entire Alaskan winter type of winter season? An entire Alaskan winter season means a lot change happens for a longer period of time. There are things you can’t do. Places you can’t go. But after months and months of darkness, the sun finally comes out and things get back to normal. Is the coronavirus here for an Alaskan winter season?
It’s the ice age. Like the ice age, everything changes. When the crisis is over, there’s a new normal. Somethings go extinct. Only the most prepared survive. What’s left looks nothing like it did before the ice age. This is the most serious (obviously) scenario, but we need to be asking: Are we in a coronavirus ice age? Have we only experienced the tip of the iceberg?
A storm, winter season or an ice age—those seem to be our choices?
We are flying blind. We don’t have all the facts. Still, I think only the most optimistic among us (and usually that’s me) says it’s only a storm. I hope and pray it’s only a season. But this might be an ice age. If it is, we had better prepare for it. What if things never go back to the way they were?
For the local church, how does that look in our worship gatherings? What does that do for our evangelism efforts? How does this change our on-line presence and how do we make it better? What happens with child care in the post-pandemic world? Do youth group gatherings still occur? What about retreats, summer camps and concerts in a post-pandemic world? How does that effect our church staffing on all levels? What does an ice age mean financially?
For the global church, how does it affect the travel of missionaries and global leaders? What does this mean for things like work and witness and the World Evangelism Fund? Can Nazarene Compassion Ministries meet the coming wave of needs and requests for aid? Are short-term mission trips over? What about gatherings like General Assembly and getting delegates into the country if there are still travel restrictions?
These are the questions we should be asking. How will we respond if this isn’t just a passing storm or even a long winter season, but it’s an ice age?
Here is our great hope whatever the case: The church will endure! Jesus is on the throne. Proverbs 3:5-6 is an appropriate reminder: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.