In recent months, the spread of COVID-19 has led to a lockdown in many countries. In these countries and some others that are yet to go on lockdown, ban has been placed on social gatherings. People are encouraged to work from homes, schools have been closed and lectures are done online, church services (including weddings and funerals) have been called off.
These measures are suppose to keep the entire citizenry safe in this season. As a precautionary measure, isolation from people, regular washing of hands have been meted out to be observed by all. This is a step in the right direction and I strongly support the government and its institutions in their directives.
In this article, I want to discuss some impact of the COVID-19 on the church and its entire membership. Most of my discussions follow from my faith in the word of God and the promises of His covenant, as well as logical reasoning of the situation at hand.
The negative side
No one actually loves a messenger of bad news. Our ears have been tuned to appreciate good news and that’s to be expected. However, I want to present the downside of the COVID-19 on the members in the church and the church as an organisation.
As a Christian and a leader in the church, I must admit that the aura of the congregational worship is a great experience: the lifting up of hands during worship, the dance during praises, the bible discussion sessions and fellowship after church service is one of a kind. Many people look forward to this experience as the church service approaches. However, this experience will be missed for a while. This heightens panic and fear and in some instances depression.
The close-down of the church and its services will have a negative influence on the finances of the church. Although the church is a non-profit organisation, it thrives on the contribution of its members through tithes and offerings. With expenses that are incurred as the services are run, ranging from utility bills to salaries and mortgages, the church leadership has an extra challenge to handle this issue. Although some have quickly developed online payment methods for the tithes and offerings, there still remain a substantial amount of churches that have and may not be able to do so at such a time. The global economic instability will obviously affect the income of the members, which in turn will also affect the income of the church.
The positive side
Let me also use this opportunity to share some of the positive impact of the COVID-19 on the church. I believe that this COVID-19 season has in one way or the other worked out for the good of the church.
This COVID-19 season has brought a great revival in the nations of this world. On the global level, attention has been on God as the only help. Some countries like Ghana (https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-51993919) and the U.S.A. have declared a national day of fasting and prayers. President Trump in his address proclaimed:
Our nation has never more needed earnest, prevailing prayer for a reversal of evil and for a revival of faith, for wise and godly leaders, and for peace and goodwill in the world.https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/trump-national-day-of-prayer-robert-morgan
This season has served as a platform for countries to have a retrospective look at the source of their wisdom and strength, an opportunity to unite as a nation to call on the name of the Lord. Never in my life has this scripture been quoted than in this crisis season:
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14
The closing down of churches has led to a quick shift of the church to dominate the social media platforms. Gone were the days where church service was only confined to the four walls of a building, but most churches are now challenged to reach their members through the social media platforms and as such reach a greater audience.
This reminds me of a scripture where the persecution of the church moved Philip to Samaria to preach the gospel there. As a matter of opinion, the COVID-19 may have come in a time like this to shift the church from its four walls and get people to fellowship with God.
God has always been on the business of getting the message of the good news to the ends of the earth. This was His command to the church:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-19 (NIV)
The gospel has to be preached to those outside the church and He intends to get that accomplished. Through the social media platforms, the knowledge of the glory of God is expanded to a larger mass. It is quite unfortunate that it had to take death and illness to shift us in this direction, howbeit He pushed the church in Acts through persecution and imprisonment of the believers (Reference: Acts 8), and He may be doing same in our era.
Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.Acts 11:19 (NIV)
Shine as lights
Whenever darkness comes, it gives the light the opportunity to become brighter. Light is not afraid of darkness and is always pleased that there is darkness to shine forth. In the midst of other light, a match stick will not be brighter than a fluorescent bulb. However, in darkness, the match stick with produce a brighter light.
In the midst of other believers, we may have deemed ourselves as “useless”. Looking at the contribution and attitude of people with regards to the work of God, you sometimes fall short with nothing to actually talk about. There is no department in the church you have found yourself to be a part of .
However, this season presents us all the opportunity to use what we have to be a blessing to others. Ranging from the care we show to our friends to the messages of hope we share on our various social media platforms, we can contribute our quota to dealing with the darkness of panic and death that plaques the entire populace.
Most importantly, we can also support the less priviledged in this period of lockdown by providing food, healthcare kits to hospitals amongst many others. I should be quick to commend some churches like Church of Pentecost (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Church-Pentecost-donates-logistics-to-Ministry-of-Health-to-combat-coronavirus-904171) , Maker’s House Chapel (https://www.peacefmonline.com/pages/local/news/202003/404001.php), etc that have already embarked on such projects. We can also contribute the little we have to support such great projects.
I would like to end this article with an instagram post from Bishop T.D. Jakes.
To those of you, that live in areas that have restricted our ability to mingle, and you’ve been wise enough to comply. This is a great time to pray, plan, and prepare. Whatever is on the other side of this required complete global disruption! Many people are just waiting for normal to return, but disruptions come to liberate you from what was, and to prepare you for what’s next! There will be bankruptcies and billionaires born out of the same experience. There will be bitter divorces and couples who fell back in love resulting in stronger marriages that date back to these days. There will be churches that close down and circus to the hardships this brings and others that initiate massive revival with innovative ideas because covid19 came to town. There will be leaders who win the hearts of their people by fighting for their best interests. There will be others who’s cowardice or narcissism will destroy the equilibrium of your organization. A warm hand will reach out to the family, or a bitter tongue will destroy it. Both will attribute the virus.Which one will you be? Give that some thought as you look out the fence at a world-shaking in unprecedented ways!Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-R2DfvnMld/
God bless you and Remain a blessing. With lots of love.
StandOut Ministry International.