COVID-19 Changed My Church

Our lives are marked by a series of transformational moments. These moments separate history from the future. One moment life is one way and the next, life will never be the same. These will be the moments people point to as moments when “everything changed.” I’m sure the discovery of fire was such a moment as was the discovery of electricity. For my generation, it was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. JFK’s election was a validation of our nation’s youthful hope in our future. We were going to the moon. Nothing was impossible for us.

All of that changed in a moment in Dallas, Texas.

For those younger than me, the terrorist attack on 9/11 was that moment. Before the attack, we had always assumed the terrorists would bomb someplace else. Our nation, protected by two great oceans, would never see an enemy carry out a successful attack on our soil.

All of that changed the morning when two airplanes hit the World Trade Center. Our dreams were lost in the billowing dust of the collapsing towers.

In one moment, everything past is lost and the future is suddenly unknown. The whiteboard of our lives is wiped clean and everything that was written on that board before this transformational event is no longer relevant to what we must do now—to who we must become now.

Everything changed in a moment.

The pandemic has been one of those moments. Our lives before COVID-19 and our lives after COVID-19 seem to be two different worlds. Many of us can’t remember our lives before COVID. In a matter of weeks, our entire lives were changed. Suddenly, we were trapped at home for days, then weeks, then months. We couldn’t go into the office. We couldn’t go shopping and we couldn’t go to school. We couldn’t go to church. We couldn’t go anywhere.

And something happened when we stayed home. We began to think about our lives differently. We began to think about each other differently. Parents were suddenly homeschooling their children, and we started rethinking the educational process. We rethought how much time and energy our jobs were taking from our lives. We rethought the price we and our families were paying. A lot of us decided it was no longer worth the cost.

A lot of people quit their jobs. A lot of people retired. This phenomenon has been called “The Great Resignation.” People are leaving careers, changing jobs, moving to different cities and doing it all to try and find a life more in line with their values. When the world called time out for the pandemic, a lot of people used these days to reevaluate their lives. When they realized the lives they were living didn’t line up with the lives they really wanted to live, they quit their jobs.

The other thing the pandemic brought to us was a sense of urgency. The randomness of the virus made all of us realize that no one lives forever. Knowing this, people made the decision to no longer put off things that were important. If something was worth doing, then do it today. Tomorrow you might catch COVID-19. People are no longer willing to put off what they view as important and they are a lot less tolerant of having their time wasted.

And churches are going through the same transition. In our caution to bring things back slowly, we discovered a lot of what we were doing wasn’t worth doing at all. We were spending buckets of money and tons of man-hours only to realize that while people may have been entertained, they weren’t changed in any way. No one was closer to Christ. No one was more like him.

We were wasting a lot of time. It was hard medicine to swallow, but the truth hurts real bad before it sets you free.

But it does set you free if you let it.

The good life is pretty simple—it’s not easy, that’s another thing—but it is simple. The deep life of faith is simple as well. It’s made up of discipleship, worship and mission. Each of these have individual and corporate components. For instance, while studying the Bible alone is important, it can’t be the totality of our Bible study. Why? Because the first person we lie to is ourselves. You need someone to hold you accountable to the text.

You also need to be involved with others in worship. Why? Because there are times when you can’t praise God all by yourself. You need your brothers and sisters to sing with you. Other times, you need them to carry you through worship. Life will have been too hard for you and you won’t be able to sing at all. Your brothers and sisters will sing for you.

And you need to be serving the world for the sake of the kingdom. Find the place where your giftedness, your passions and the needs of the world meet. Why? Because there are some lessons of faith we learn only in obedience. In doing what the Lord commands, we learn the validity and trustworthiness of his teachings. The second reason is the world is so burned out listening to the church talk about love that they are very skeptical until they see the love of Christ in action. When they do, they recognize the truth of who Jesus is in the lives of his people.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. COVID-19 has given us a perfect excuse to declutter our lives and focus on what matters. Moments like this are a gift from God. Don’t blow it by trying to get back to normal.

Remember how much normal sucked? Simplify your life. Focus on what matters and blame COVID-19 for it all.

Read more from Mike Glenn »

This article originally appeared on Jesus Creed and is reposted here by permission.

Mike Glenn
Mike Glenn

Mike Glenn is senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee.