A reminder to breathe
COVID-19 PERSPECTIVE: Andy Addis
CrossPoint Church, Kansas
My wife has a sign which she made herself which hangs in our kitchen with two simple words, “Just breathe.“ Pastor and church leader, this is my advice to you in the midst of this chaotic season, just breathe.
I’m not asking you to deny reality or exhibit some kind of hyperfaith with a pseudobravado attached.
No, things are bad, people are hurting, fear and confusion are ruling the day. That’s why you must exhibit a gospel steadiness, and that comes through perspective.
Never forget that the church has always been able to thrive in times of difficulty and persecution. In fact, it’s during days of ease that we get things a little sideways.
The book of 1 Peter is written to the people of the dispersion, or as we remember from seminary, those in the diaspora. It was a violent and dark time of persecution on the church. And fleeing believers made it to the farthest reaches of the known world, and they took the gospel with them! What the Devil meant for evil, God used for good.
Look around, online church services are nearly buckling platforms because of increased volume, the media is portraying believers as caregivers, risk-takers and lovers of their community, and the world which has been long distracted is actually asking questions. We will get through this crisis, but the question will be what kind of church will we be on the other side.
It’s why we must get the perspective that our God is not scared, the gospel is not null, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church.
What we’re experiencing is what many are calling a watershed moment. A watershed moment means that things should be different on the other side of current events, and one of the things that I’m witnessing I really hope stays with us past the crisis: Churches are cooperating with each other.
From time to time you hear a story about a church partnering with another, or some special ecumenically minded staffer that pulls off a great unifier, but generally community in the “big C” church is code for fellowship inside our local bodies.
But for the last couple weeks the rules have changed. We’ve loaned out equipment to smaller churches who did not have video capability, opened our doors to congregations to film their own services for rebroadcast, other pastors have set in on conference calls so that they could pass along safety information to the rest of us, and a dozen-plus of us stood six feet apart walking to the microphone individually to share a unified message with our community.
I am a pastor of a multisite congregation and one of the most difficult things about planting new works is very often other churches. As a species we can be territorial, suspicious and inwardly focused—even if our mission statement says something else.
My prayer is that the spirit of cooperation, unity and oneness in the body of Christ will continue long past this crisis. And it will, if we intentionally make the decision to do so.
For many churches, pastors and ministry leaders this crisis has forced them into a bold new world: tech. The use of technology has always been a source of disgruntled conversation in my circles, and as a pastor of a video-driven multisite I’ve heard it all: That’s not a real church. You can’t really pastor someone online. You’re just tickling itching ears, etc., etc., etc.
Well, for the last couple of weeks I haven’t heard one of those debates, because out of necessity we are all leveraging every resource we can to stay in touch, be effective and make sure the gospel is first and foremost.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not an “I told you so.” It’s more of a sigh of relief.
If you’re like me you’ve done more online meetings in the last few weeks than during the last few years. It’s been comforting, informative and especially helpful as we’re ordered to stay at home, and travel is unavailable.
Personally, our small group has met online as well for the first time. It’s not the best way, but it is “a way” and that is the point.
Utilizing tools and technology may not always be the best connective tissue for relationships but it’s better than nothing. Like the old saying goes, “I like the plan I have better than the plan you don’t have.”
Hopefully, this crisis use of technology will bring down the walls between some leaders and remove the diminishing labels we give each other.
And, whether we’re old school, or new school, we can all be from the same school if we learn these lessons.
Read more COVID-19 Perspectives from pastors and church leaders.