Updated: May 24
Over the last ten weeks, churches have had to deal with not only the health and economic concerns that have dominated the world but have also had to do so without the comfort that comes from gathering with their church family. It has been a tremendous loss.
I recently made a list of things I have learned from personal experience during this season of COVID-19. Here are my "Top Ten" things that made my list.
10. The church isn't a building, but gathering is indispensable
It is absolutely right that a true church is not a building; it is the people. However, that is not to say that a place the church gathers is of no value. Any structure could be burned up or blown away, and the church would still be the church. But gathering together is essential. There is no real substitute for gathering with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
9. True Christians are faithful no matter what
I have been blessed to see the body of Christ continue to find ways to serve, to give, and to do Kingdom work. For people who are merely religious, obedience depends upon convenience. For those for whom that is the case, the events of the world will expose them. For true believers, faithfulness is about Christ, not convenience.
8. Preaching needs people
I have continued to study the last ten weeks as I always do. I have preached every Sunday since the pandemic erupted. Yet it is just not the same. I miss interacting with people after teaching to hear how the Spirit of God used the message to bring encouragement, equipping, and conviction. I am tired of preaching to a nearly empty room and then just walking to my truck. Preaching needs people!
7. A joyful home is a must
As we have all spent more time at home than ever before, it is so clear how essential it is to live in a house filled with love and compassion. No family is perfect, but the blessings are sweet for those who go to great lengths to protect the peace and unity of the home. Make your home a refuge.
6. Your doctrine of sovereignty needs to be tested
It is easy to affirm God's providence and sovereignty in a classroom, but what about when everything is turned upside down? Do you truly trust the Lord? Do you really believe He is in control? Even now? It is good to have what you believe tested.
5. Being away from your church family is being away from real family
The New Testament church is far more than just random people who appear at the same address occasionally. It is about relationships, connections, and Christ-centered friendships. Being separated from my congregation has been being quarantined away from family. It has not been easy, but praise the Lord, it will not be lasting either.
4. It still rains on Easter Sunday in Mustang, Oklahoma
Our church has been doing an outside Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday for the past seventeen years. Except, in Mustang, Oklahoma, it has now rained early Easter Sunday morning for eight out of the last nine years. Yep! Even this year, even when we couldn't even attempt an outdoor Sunrise Service, it still rained! Some things are just going to happen!
3. Outdoor services at my church are just not a good strategy anytime
We had planned to have an outdoor worship service on Friday, May 15, to begin the process of people coming back to our church campus. And guess what? Rain, wind, and storms! I think the Lord may be trying to tell me something...
2. Funerals are meant to be filled with friends to help mourn and grieve
One of the hardest things I've had to do during this season of restrictions is lead funeral services. I have stood at the pulpit while looking at families gathered for the funeral of a loved one while being limited to only a handful of people being allowed to attend. It was crushing! Moments of grieving are intended to have the presence of friends to help share the pain. Of all the heartbreaking things I have seen in the last two months, this has been at the top of my list.
1. God is faithful
The Lord has sustained His people, and He still is sustaining us. We have experienced His nearness, goodness, and grace in personal and clear ways. The Lord has given me hope, joy, strength, perseverance, and a real sense of contentment amid this storm. His Spirit has comforted and encouraged me through the Word and the prayers of His people. Our God is faithful!
"Anchored in Hope" is a book Michael has written that contains forty daily devotionals. Whether you are a new Christian or a seasoned believer, these daily readings will strengthen your faith as they point you to Christ. To order your copy, click here. To request prayer, please click here.