A thought popped into my mind.
What if the COVID-19 Global Pandemic ends up saving the Western church?
Think about it.
The Western church has been in decline for decades and with a few notable exceptions, has addressed the collective decline by doing more of what it was doing previously.
What was it doing? Good deeds to the exclusion of evangelism.
Juxtapose this with the stated mission of Jesus to “seek and save the lost,” Jesus’ imperative of the church to “take the message of repentance to all nations (Luke 24: 47)” and the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20). This all sounds like evangelism to me.
Is it possible that we have vastly under-spiritualized the mission of the church? Could it be that we are first and foremost called to “proclaim the forgiveness of sins for all who will turn to Jesus?” I want to suggest that the purpose of the church is not to do good deeds; it is to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ until his return. The reality is that a lot of churches are literally doing good deeds to death.
Obviously, as we pursue our spiritual mission, we are doing to do lots of good deeds but doing good deeds to the exclusion of Gospel proclamation and evangelism misses the mission of the church. It is an incomplete Gospel. It is a sterile Gospel. Many churches are really good at keeping their most committed Christians really busy (usually exhausted) in the pursuit of good deeds but the question I am asking is, “Are we busy doing the unique work of the Spirit-filled church of Jesus Christ?”
There is an opportunity before us. The pandemic will no doubt claim many churches; but most had serious preexisting conditions. Others will manage to reopen but do so doing the same things, the same way they have always done them. If the COVID-19 pandemic forces “at risk” churches to ask some hard questions toward the recovery their spiritual mission, perhaps what was meant for harm will work for good.
I consider this pandemic to be a demonic attack on the Church of Jesus Christ. Let’s face it, COVID-19 shut us down in ways few of us thought possible. We can “throw in the towel” and die or we can repent, refocus and revive.
COVID-19 may yet save the Western church.
-Shane L. Bishop has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fariview