The decision to move all church activities to an online forum was a difficult decision for LCC’s board and staff leaders. We thought of drive-in options and considered the message we were sending to our community. I have received some criticism as the move appears to be a lack of faith to some. In the age of quarantine, faith is challenged, and the definition of faith can be ambiguous. How do we change the world when we aren’t meeting?
Many churches have chosen different responses. Lately there are some churches that chose to continue meetings. I don’t want to criticize any church’s decision, but news reports are full of churches whose expression of faith has led to outsiders seeing the church as uncaring. On the other hand, shouldn’t we stand in the face of this pandemic and proclaim faith?
Maybe we need to define faith. Faith is never in our ability to demonstrate our own power to stand against forces outside our control. Faith rather is in our ability to hear God and trust His guidance. For example, in Matthew 2:13 “the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you.’” Joseph had to wrestle with the seeming contradiction between standing in faith against the coming destruction under Herod and quarantining his family away from the danger. Faith, to Joseph, came in the form of hearing and obeying God not demonstrating his “faith.”
Jesus was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4 to demonstrate faith in spectacular ways. He chose instead to demonstrate faith in trusting God. Jumping from the temple ramparts would certainly force God’s hand and promote Jesus’ status, but He chose instead to trust God for promotion. Our decisions at LCC have been based on what God directs rather than what would demonstrate our ability to promote our “faith.”
In Exodus, we find a plague coming upon the land and we also find Moses leading his people to quarantine in their homes. Faith involves trusting God in the situation in which we find ourselves. God may call us to stand in some spectacular fashion, but more times than not He has a longer-range plan that involves hearing His voice in the storm.
We have met online for three weeks now and have trusted God to keep LCCers safe and to grow His church. Our online presence has grown exponentially. Every great move of God has been preceded by a technological breakthrough. The codex (bound books) preceded the early Church’s breakthrough growth. Gutenberg’s printing press preceded the Protestant Reformation. Radio and television preceded the Pentecostal revival of the 20th Century. Now, we have an internet and social media breakthrough that could be preceding the greatest revival ever seen. If we are willing to hear God, I believe He is leading us to a new season in which some of the old wineskins of church gatherings give way to new wineskins of effectiveness.
I like the old wineskins, and I am prone to spectacular demonstrations of faith in the now. Faith, however, means trusting God to reveal new methods and to bear fruit over time. This current pandemic provides a shaking in which we must hear God. Every believer now has an opportunity to trust God for bigger things. Some LCCers have posted videos and used the internet to reach people that we never could have reached before.
I encourage you to hear from God and try something. The safety of the old ways are passing away, and a revival is in the making if we are bold enough to trust God to lead us. Using the new technology of FB, Zoom, FaceTime, etc. to reach the nations is our only path forward right now, but it could be that God provided the path if we are bold enough to leave our comfort zone and try new things. Mark Batterson once said that the greatest ways of doing ministry have yet to be discovered.
I have discovered that Linda and I can’t hold the church together on our own. LCCers have to rise together in faith and see the coming revival. Faith always involves action, and if each of us rises up to “be the church” we will see a revival across our land. We will one day meet again face to face, but the church will never be the same. We have retreated from the old and are trusting God for the new!