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The COVID-19 scare shocked the world.  Our government’s response to it was unlike anything we have ever seen.  Who would have thought just a few months ago that our nation would lock down and the American way of life would change so dramatically?

The coronavirus shutdown halted the economy, put citizens on house arrest, and closed many churches.  The politician’s liberal leanings were unmasked as they prioritized liquor stores and abortion clinics above small businesses and churches.

The will of God doesn't change with circumstances. Current events did not come as a surprise to God.  He has equipped us for the task ahead. Click To Tweet

Churches have suffered.  

Most assemblies went three months without meeting in person.  Some churches had weeks with no offerings.  Since then, giving has diminished as Christians struggle financially. It may take time to build offerings back up for churches with many members out of work.  

Outreach ministries that take the Gospel to the lost halted.  Public soul winning, bus ministry, street preaching, nursing home, and prison ministries stopped.

Some churches are meeting again with restrictions.  Fed up with government overreach, some churches are meeting despite state restrictions.  Pastors are getting tickets, fines, jail threats, and court dates for holding church.  

Who would’ve thought this travesty could happen in America?  This unthinkable turn of events is shocking.

Churches all over America are struggling.  Faithful Christians are looking for leadership through this unprecedented trial.  God’s men must lead with wisdom, faith, compassion, confidence, and love.  We must rest upon the fundamentals of our faith and focus on the basics of Scriptural ministry.

The burning question is, “Where do churches go from here?”  How do we move forward?  As always, we find comfort, courage, and direction from God’s Word.

When Paul wrote the epistle of 2 Timothy around 66 A.D., the state of Christianity was troubled, and it’s future uncertain.

Paul, who had been an influential Christian leader for decades, was in prison.  Soon he would be martyred for his faith. 

Christianity had grown like wildfire, but it’s opposition surged as well.  The Roman government was on shaky ground, looking for someone to blame for its problems.  

Emperor Nero set his sights on Christians as the scapegoat.  In 64 A.D., a fire destroyed half of Rome.  Nero blamed Christians and began the first persecution.  Christians were publicly murdered for sport as Romans filled the Colleseum and cheered.

At the same time, apostasy spread through Asia like a deadly virus.  Infighting among Christian sects had already begun.  

What was Timothy to do?  How was he supposed to lead through troubled times?  Could he manage after his mentor was gone?  How could churches function during murderous persecution? Put yourself in the place of this burdened man of God.  The situation looked grim.

Paul gave his answer in his last inspired letter to his protege’ Timothy. His response was simple yet profound.   

2 Timothy 2:1–2

“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Essentially, Paul said, “Be strong.  Trust God.  Keep doing what you know to do. Get back to the basics.” 

This verse is our mandate in 2020!  Get back to the basics!  We must keep doing what we know to do!

The will of God doesn’t change with circumstances. Current events did not come as a surprise to God.  He has equipped us for the task ahead.  

God will provide our needs and empower our efforts as we seek His face and obey His commandments.

Take heart, child of God!  Our Father is still on the Throne in full control!  

Our situation is no worse than churches have faced for 2,000 years.  The Kingdom of God will thrive as God’s army marches on.

Consider these practical steps for your Church to conquer COVID.

Great Commission

The Great Commission is our priority.  Preach salvation personally and publicly.  Baptize those who believe.  Teach new disciples to do the same thing.

If we don’t continue this essential task, we have failed.  Nothing else matters if we fail this life or death commission.  There will be no church.  There will be no Christians.  Without evangelism, Christianity dies.  

Stay at it!  Beat the streets.  Pound the pavement.  Get creative.  Pray for divine appointments and open doors.  Use current events for witnessing to friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. Winning souls is our priority.

Bible Preaching

Preach the Word!  God chose preaching to save souls and teach believers.  Now is not the time to get soft.  Preach with love and compassion.  Preach with zeal and passion.  Exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.  Celebrate the glories of Heaven.  Warn of eternal fire and brimstone.  Expose sin.  Extol righteousness.  Teach sinners how to die and Christians how to live.  Preach the whole counsel of God!

Prayer

Our biggest failure is our lack of prayer.  The busyness of life, the pride of our hearts, and the sin of self-righteousness give us ample excuses to neglect the throne of grace.  How foolish are we!  Almighty God has invited us to His Throne to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Now we must return to fervent prayer

Schedule it.  Make it happen.  Add some fasting to your schedule and beseech the God of Heaven.  Only with frequent and fervent prayer can we accomplish His will for us.

Teach sinners how to die and Christians how to live.  Preach the whole counsel of God! Click To Tweet

Trim the Budget 

Budgets swell over time.  Use difficult times to trim the budget.  Examine your personal and church budgets prayerfully.  Is there anything you should cut?  

Separate priorities from preferences.  Protect payments that fulfill the Great Commission.  Sacrifice where necessary.  

Make adjustments as needed elsewhere.  You can expand the budget later when income increases.

Streamline Ministries

Churches can get too busy.  It is a constant struggle to balance outreach and in-reach ministries.  When you focus on outreach, people get saved.  Then those people need attention, so you don’t spend as much time on outreach, and fewer people get saved.  Then people leave or move, and you don’t have as many people to take care of so you go back to outreach, and the cycle continues.

Don’t get caught in this trap.  Make small adjustments on the go so you don’t get too far out of balance.

Healthy, growing churches learn how to balance evangelism and discipleship without sacrificing either. Now is a great time to look at the calendar. Make plans going forward based on what God wants rather than what you have always done.

Trust the Process 

The basics work. Don’t doubt them. 

God’s methods work in 2020, as well as they always have. Use modern tools and technology wisely, but never exchange the proven basics for ministry fads or unbiblical philosophy. Compromise kills churches.

If you just want a crowd, throw a rock concert.  If you are looking for an easy road, get out of the ministry.  

But if you want a New Testament church that honors God and makes an eternal impact, get busy implementing the Bible basics!

Conclusion

The will of God doesn’t change with circumstances. Current events did not come as a surprise to God.  He has equipped us for the task ahead.

Don’t just survive COVID. With God’s help we can thrive! Step out in faith and obedience today. You can do this!


A portion of this article was originally published in the SAVE NEW ENGLAND Quarterly Magazine’s summer 2020 issue. You can learn more about the magazine here.