Will Covid-19 Change the Church?

Like many, in this time of ‘social distancing,’ my heart longs for connection. It isn’t really a new longing. Feeling like a mis-fit is common for me. But COVID-19 has given me a new appreciation for connectedness. It’s truly helped me understand the beauty of Church in a much deeper way.

‘The church is not empty, it is deployed’ sentiments abounding on social media are nice but incomplete.

COVID-19 did not deploy the church.

The Church has been on mission since its inception. It is sometimes misunderstood – and even misused – as a social gathering, a source of comfort, or a place to express oneself or recharge after a rough week. But that’s not the Church of the Bible.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

The Church is NOT the building – that is truth. The Church is the living stones of people being built TOGETHER as a habitation for the Spirit of God.

BUT I am not the Church.

You are not the Church.

Only together does the Church exist: WE are the Church. The Church is to function in unity, not just in isolation.

My prayer is that COVID-19 will redefine the church—a definition that encompasses personal responsibility and corporate unity. Such was the cry of Jesus’ heart in John 17. In fact, He said, the world will know Him by unified loving of one another.

The Church is deployed by coming together and going into the world.

Yet in all of the positives that are coming out as responses to COVID-19, a hidden danger rises up to menace me:  when social isolation passes, will people prefer an easier, individualistic idea of church? Will church become something to do on your own, in your own way, at your own time? The actions of individuals must never be mistaken as a complete definition of Church. It has a much higher, holier purpose.

The functions of Church – evangelism, education, worship, social connection – are to be the daily activities of individuals…whether there is a pandemic happening or not.

  • Christians SHOULD share the verses that encourage them to hold fast to Christ.
  • Christians SHOULD share the Gospel.
  • Christians SHOULD worship in song.
  • Christians SHOULD be Jesus to everyone they encounter.

It is wonderful that COVID-19 is inspiring more individuals to accept personal responsibility! But let’s not think that such actions replace ‘the Church.’ The Church, praise God, is much more than SHOULDS and DOINGS.

Church is both the gathering of those called by Christ’s name

…AND the sending out of those called by Christ’s name.

The Church is corporate unity in heart and action, AND it is individual expression of the shared passion. The Church must gather together with all the challenges and sacrifices that unity requires – and not be content with individualized action alone. Our identity is as the body of Christ. Checking on the elderly folks you know is a good thing to do…but gathering together with other believers is being the Church too.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

“Social Distancing” has brought my heart a clearer understanding of the beauty of corporate ‘Church.’ I celebrate the creative ways many are gathering to support each other:  Zoom Prayer Meetings, car convoys to declare love, neighborhood projects.  The Network offers some more fantastic suggestions. Coordinated, corporate activities have a beauty and a benefit far beyond the ‘activity.’

What COVID-19 response from your Church has blessed you the most?

Have you launched a creative way of ‘gathering together in the midst of isolation that others might try?

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Servants

As I read my favorite devotion this morning (My Utmost), the question I’ve read every year for over a decade pierced my heart yet again:

“Am I willing to be myself and nothing more…”

Logic says that’s all any of us can be…but it is seldom how we live.  I don’t like my limitations, my failures, my selfishness, my ….  But those are part of me.  Learning to simply be myself–and know I am loved as I am is critical to becoming all Christ intends for me to be!  Willing to be myself in service to the Great I am is a powerful position.  Today, we’ll look at the beauty of servanthood as Christ displayed it:  that is the destiny of each of us.

Humility and servanthood are unquestionably linked; in fact, Christ’s servant heart preceded the humility that led Him to the cross. Servant-hood is not for the faint of heart. However, it has a counterfeit in natural man, which sometimes makes us think this is an easier character trait to obtain.

As Christians, we must never mistake volunteerism for servant hood. Needs abounded then and now. While Jesus met needs (and meets them), He was neither needs-driven nor needs-focused. The incredible beauty of Christ’s attitude of service rests upon the truth that He acted purely out of obedience to the will of God. True servant hood exemplifies such focus. The servant heart finds the answer to all of its needs in Christ and simply serves as a conduit to the world for the great Need-Meeter!

The desire to do good for others is not necessarily Christ-like. Alleviating suffering is Christ-like, and we are created in Christ to do good works. However, the Spirit of servant hood exhibited by Christ is far more challenging than simply doing good. Self seeks the spotlight in our lives; sometimes serving allows us to be noticed. Examining Christ’s life shows us that such service is not the servant hood He displayed.

Satan tempted Jesus to serve Himself…to use His power to meet His needs, to reveal His power and claim His inheritance. Jesus refused to rush the Father’s plan and gave glory to God in His refusal to lift up Himself. The disciples encouraged Jesus to pity Himself…to insist on His Kingship and demand the honor and glory He deserved. Jesus rebuked their suggestions and pressed on toward the Father’s will. Those who personally knew Jesus questioned His identity and said ‘show yourself.’ Christ refused the temptation to defend Himself and stayed firmly focused upon the will of God.

Each of those victories strengthened Jesus for His blood-wrenching night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is that night of prayer that reveals the heart of servant hood: ‘Not my will but thine.’ Those words are the heart-cry of pure service. As Christ’s earthly life neared its end on the cross, the crowds mocked Him with the words ‘Save Yourself.’ They, like many today, failed to understand that the focus on self never brings deliverance. Self steps aside in the heart of the servant to allow the purposes and plans of God to enter.

The King of Kings forfeited the blessings of heaven to wash the dirty feet of His most beloved creation: humankind. He endured betrayal, deceit, anger, disrespect, humiliation, torture, cruelty, injustice and death at the hands of those He came to serve. Not only did He endure it, Christ absorbed it and all of its consequences to accomplish the purpose–the will–of the Father. The heart of the servant is willing to do the same. Servant hood is not volunteering. It is life-giving sacrifice that costs all of self.

Oddly enough, it begins by accepting ourselves as the beloved of God…even with our shortcomings and imperfections.  Only a surrendered life can truly serve.  His power is great enough to fill our every lack.  He gave His very life for our sins…receiving His gift with thanksgiving means receiving His very life and giving it to another.  For a powerful, deep look at Servanthood, read HIS: Hands in Service or schedule a workshop for your ministry team.

Be A GATE!

The Gate to see God is being:

Gateway, Danny Eugene - Flickr

Genuine.  Accepting.  Transparent.  Encouraging.

Genuine: Real with God and others.  Pat phrases are not what get us through life!

Accepting:  God meets us where we are at but loves us too much to leave us there.  Accepting doesn’t mean there are no ‘rules,’ it means walking alongside until the better way (His way) is seen and understood.

Transparent:  Everyone struggles.  No one arrives at ‘perfection’ in this land.  Paul boasted in his weaknesses because they are doorways to God’s greatness.  Let your struggles be seen…because God is there!

Encouraging:  God created us for connection because we need each other.  Be a cheerleader for others–it will cheer you and help them become cheerleaders!

Serving God is a high and holy privilege.  HIS Hands explores the beauty of Christian servanthood.  A companion book is in the works!  Sign up for Glory Glimpse News to receive notice–or follow this website or the Facebook Page.

 

 

The Key to a GREAT LIFE!

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  One thing that assures a life of security, bounty and fruitfulness.  I believe it is true, and I am in good company.  Look at what Solomon–the wisest man who ever lived said after his various attempts at figuring out life:

Let us hear the conclusion of the matter.  Fear God and keep his commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man.  Ecclesiastes 12:13

It is often said that Scripture says ‘fear not’ 365 times–once for every day of the year.  I can’t document that for you, but I can tell you–thanks to my precious E-Sword–that the KJV of the Bible has the word fear in 385 verses.  The bulk of the usage is in the Old Testament but 84 verses mention fear in the New Testament.

The gist of all that is this:  we have two choices in life:  fear God or fear everything else.  I’m not even going to bother with talking about the other fears, I want to share some of the awesome things I found about FEARING GOD!

By the way, the roots of the word for fear in the Bible

speak of reverence, awe and trembling.  

That helps us understand how in Scripture FEAR OF GOD is all of these things:

  • Governing force for actions.
  • Foundation for life and leadership.
  • Purpose of testing.
  • Source of deliverance and power. Man in awe
  • Command of God.
  • Desire of God.
  • For our good.
  • Purpose of ordinances, studying of law, obedience, rebuke.
  • To be taught, learned and lived.
  • Response to seeing God.
  • Aspect of worship.
  • Counter to fear.
  • Source of life, knowledge, wisdom, provision, protection, courage, identity, mercy and worship.
  • Foundation for serving and pursuing holiness.
  • Equivalent to hating evil.
  • Basis for unity.
  • Impacts others.
  • Strong force in the early Church.

Fear of God is reverence for who God is–it is thankfulness for all He does and how He loves us.  Fear of God cancels out all other fears and comes from a right relationship with the Father.  Fear of God is the key that produces an awesome life!

There are only two paths in life…choose the one that leads to all goodness:  

Fear of God!

 

 

 

HIS: Hands in Service

Christians know they are called to be servants.  All sorts of things get in the way of that…some we see and understand, some we make excuses for and some we don’t know how to overcome.  I grew up in a family that almost worshiped work–though surely my brothers would tell you I was lacking in that :).  Nevertheless, working is a part of who I am.  God in His mercy and grace has used serving to grow me.

I believe in service as a transformational tool.  We can not work our way to heaven.  We can not create faith.  We can be transformed!

May the short video below make you thirsty for that transformation! There is much more to explore and know about it! Schedule a workshop for you group by contacting Heartsong!

Please comment below how has God used serving to change you? .

 

 

The content of this presentation is also in book form.  If you are interested in obtaining a PDF version of HIS Hands in Service or scheduling a workshop, see below.

HIS Hands in Service – PDF

Jesus said He came to serve, not be served. We have the immense privilege of serving in HIS name. Understanding the privilege in its depths shows honor to God and brings good to ourselves & others. This book was originally developed as a homeschool guide for developing service opportunities that could generate high school credit on a transcript.

$1.99

 

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