I didn’t have flight insurance. They canceled my flight because they didn’t have enough passengers. I lost my money and had to drive to a more distant airport. Next time, I’ll be ready.
Last week I wrote about the sad fact that the COVID pandemic, and all that it involved, caught most of us off guard. Sadly, the experts are telling us that it will likely happen again.
Next time, let’s be ready.
Last week I gave you three suggestions. See Prepping Your Church For The Next Pandemic
BTW: This could be a sermon series.
- Prep your people for trouble and trials. Jesus and the Apostles promised they would come.
- Prep your church for the departure of stony ground and thorny ground Christians. (See Matthew 13:1-23)
- Prep your people to accept their brothers and sisters in spite of their differences of opinion. There’s nothing like a good crisis to bring out our clashing views on ethical issues.
The following are three more suggestions for prepping your church for the next pandemic:
- Prep your people by teaching them your church’s position on obeying the government.
Romans 13:1-7, the New Testament’s longest and strongest passage about obeying the government, is pretty clear to me. You may also want to check out parallel passages such as Titus 3:1 and I Peter 2:11-17. There’s no question that there are instances when obedience to God forces us to disobey human authorities (Acts 4:19), but for the most part, the obligation to obey is compelling.
If your church disagrees, fine. Whatever your church’s official position on this – and it probably needs to have one – teach it clearly and boldly. Are you going to support your members’ religious objections to mask wearing and vaccines? It behooves you to sort this out now, not later.
- Prep your people by teaching them about the Christian calling to love our enemies.
There was a time in my life when I was deep into Christian activism (Bible-based efforts to improve society). While I don’t regret the positions I took, I regret some of the attitudes with which I took those positions.
It’s easy to start seeing our opponents as enemies and our actual enemies as enemies only, instead of the lost, blind, deluded, misled sheep which they truly are.
The degree to which we should give ourselves to fixing the culture and the government is unclear. (If anyone has all the answers on this subject, it certainly isn’t me).
But the degree to which we should give ourselves to loving each other and everyone else – see the New Commandment of John 13:34,35 and the mandate to love our enemies in Matthew 5:43-48 – is as clear as a bell.
- Prep your people by teaching them the importance of real Christian fellowship.
“Real Christian fellowship” isn’t just going to the game together on Saturday night or drinking coffee and eating cookies together on Sunday morning.
“Real Christian fellowship” in the New Testament is a vital part of the Christian life. The writer to the Hebrews, for instance, cannot, will not, conceive of a Christian life which doesn’t involve doing the Christian life together, assembling, in person, with the people of God (Hebrews 10:24,25).
“Real Christian fellowship,” in the New Testament, is living the Christian life as a team sport, not as an individual sport.
“Real Christian fellowship,” in the New Testament, is sharing with each other what God has given us as individuals.
“Real Christian fellowship,” in the New Testament, is getting together that makes us better. It’s getting together and practicing the “one another commands” and using our spiritual gifts to build each other up in the faith.
The parachurch ministry known as the Navigators got it right when they made fellowship one of the four spokes of the wheel which was their representation of the victorious Christian life.
This is a big subject, but how did we ever go from “real Christian fellowship” with the assembly (the actual meaning of the word translated “church”) to “going to church” – a phrase never found in the New Testament?
Worse yet, how did we ever go from the church as an assembly to the church as a building?
Worse yet (maybe), how did we ever go from the church as an assembly to watching a show put on by a few gifted people on a stage?
Of course it was better for our locked-down congregations to watch “the show” on their computers than to not watch it all, but why did we ever equate this with assembling with the saints?
And shame on us for counting viewers at home among our church attendance.
I guess that if the assembling of the saints together has become merely “watching the show,” we may as well watch it from the safety of our homes.
Let’s prepare our congregations for the future by teaching them a version of the Christian life that involves real Christian fellowship.