Resource Roundup: Our Personal and Corporate Response to Coronavirus
In the coronavirus crisis, we’re all navigating new waters together: individuals and families, priests and congregations. So let’s learn from each other, as Christians around the globe contemplate how to respond in Christlikeness. Below we’ve summarized some recent helpful articles from various Christian publications, outlining ways to respond both personally and corporately.
‘Stewardship in an Age of Coronavirus’ from Anglican Compass
In his latest article on Anglican Compass (formerly Anglican Pastor), Canon David Roseberry asks the question: How can our church grow stronger and more viable in the time to come? Through a series of “what-ifs” and subsequent practical action points about topics such as Family and Children’s ministry, Senior Ministry, Pastoral Care and more, he discusses how churches can use this unique time to switch from “pulling” people in for gatherings to “pushing” the mission of the Church to congregations and communities.
“We have to think more ‘missionally.’ In fact, this is what ‘being missional’ is all about. It is about pushing ministry into the community around us. It means that we stop trying to pull people into church space; we push to their space, as it were. What if the effort that goes into weekly Sunday School was shifted into online equipping for parents and model lesson plans and activities for parents to do with their children? What if the congregation decided to reach each senior citizen through a younger adult member of their church? What if we fostered inter-generational friendships and mentoring blossomed due to these new constraints? What if the pastor opened up a Zoom video conference and held ‘Virtual Office Hours’ every day in front of the monitor?
In these unique days, I strongly encourage every pastor to make the work of pastoral connection and personal contact THE main effort of the congregational leaders. It will require training, monitoring, encouragement, and leadership. And it will require a strong commitment to organization, but it will be worth it. The church will thrive because of it.”
In the second half of the article, Canon David implores pastors to speak with their congregations about the financial shortfalls that will inevitably come about as people do not gather on Sundays.
“As we shift our ministry focus, we all need to be mindful of the stewardship implications. There surely will be financial fallout. And about the fallout, I offer two pieces of advice. Don’t wait. And don’t wish. You simply can’t wait a few months or be complacent in the midst of this complex situation. If things are not adding up for your church financially, don’t keep that a secret. Tell your members what is going on. Encourage them to give. Your church has critically important ministry to do.”
‘Practice Hospitality. Especially During a Pandemic’ from The Gospel Coalition
“What does Christian hospitality look like under COVID-19?”
Rosario Butterfield explores how we can continue to serve those around us while reminding us to abide by local quarantine orders and the Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill. Drawing on words from Martin Luther on “deadly plagues” and other historical guides, she encourages Christians to learn the needs of others and “make their comfort our priority.”
“Should we risk bringing people into our home who are stranded? Christians will arrive at different positions based on our circumstances. One family will make phone calls, another will deliver groceries, another will welcome the stranger to sleep on the couch. Each household may serve its neighbors in different ways, but each should intend to serve.”
“Death is a terrible thing: Our bodies, our minds, our souls, our hearts all rebel against it. It’s natural to be afraid of death.”
Dr. Peter Malinoski is a Catholic clinical psychologist in Indianapolis. In one of his latest podcasts centered around the coronavirus, he discusses how our fear of the virus and fear of death can help us remember to pray and to be childlike in returning to God.
“What is the upside of fearing death? The upside is that we have a unique opportunity now to confront our mortality. When we hear the statistics about deaths and new illnesses, it brings it to our attention in ways that would not have been possible a week ago, a month ago. Moreover, with things shutting down, distractions are being taken away from us. So we’re starting to come to grips with this in a way that for many people no longer is deniable. Fear is a motivator for us to reconnect with God. When we feel secure in our possessions or in our positions, or in our earthly goods, we’re less likely to seek out God.”
Dr. Malinoski offers encouragement to be honest about our fear in prayer. Listen to his short podcasts here, and also read his blog articles for how to practice meditative prayer and fasting during this time.
‘Churches Reconsider Drive-In Worship’ from Christianity Today
“Drive-in church seemed like a joke. And then, in a moment, it didn’t anymore.”
Drive-in worship services were an idea popularized in the 1950s but largely abandoned by the 1970s – except by those who recognized the special need they could provide to the immune-compromised, the grieving, those with anxiety, PTSD, and more. Now pastors of drive-in churches are being inundated with questions about how to do it – and they’re offering their advice to churches and simple method of broadcasting services.
Christianity Today quotes pastor Scott Thompson, “Sometimes it takes hard times for revival to come, for political walls to come down, and personal walls to come down, and church walls to come down. And now the church has to go outside the walls.”