Church, You’re Up

While the world around hunkers down in uncertainty, the church must rise up to bless.

Here are a few ways we and our churches might showcase the character of our Father in times like these. After all, he is “a very present help in times of trouble…therefore we will not fear” (Psalm 46). (I’m curious: what other ideas do you have? Please comment after the article!)

* Practice being a non-anxious presence in whatever space you’re in. There is no need to contribute to panic, fear, and anxiety. Christian, your very presence, when rooted in the unchanging love of Christ, can turn down the volume of panic and usher in a brand new experience: peace that can’t be explained but can certainly be felt.

* Listen with empathy. Maybe you don’t feel as worked up about the situation as someone next to you. That’s ok. Meet them where they are. Validate their feelings. Listen to listen, not just to formulate an answer back. Imagine yourself feeling what they are feeling and enter their experience. They are not projects to be fixed, but people to be loved.

* After listening well, be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you (1 Peter 3:15) when you are asked for your perspective. If you are finding your hope and anchor in Christ, share about that. Don’t just give a fuzzy, vague picture of what brings you hope. Name him: Jesus.

* Consider prayer one of your first and best lines of care. After listening, ask people if they would mind if you stopped and prayed for them right then. If that makes them uncomfortable, don’t force anything. Just make the offer. It’s amazing how many people who don’t even share our faith in Jesus understand that being prayed for is being cared for.

* Be vulnerable and share what you’re feeling, too. Let yourself be cared for. You are not ministering from a lofty space above your neighbor, you are ministering side-by-side. Humble yourself and receive the care and concern of others as well.

* As a church, consider setting up a neighborhood emergency fund. These funds could be used to buy food and household goods for families out of work and kids who are not getting meals at school. Take cues from existing ministries and government organizations about the best ways to distribute aid. If the church doesn’t already have an “in” in the affected community, it’s probably better to augment an existing outreach program than to scramble to create a new one in an emergency.

* Personally offer to get groceries, run errands, pay bills, or drive people to appointments. It’s not weird to knock on your elderly neighbor’s door and ask how you can serve them. It’s Christlike.

* See if there are any college students who need a temporary place to stay. Because of quarantines and cancelled flights, they might find themselves without a home, and what better place to stay than yours. Fancy spare rooms are not required; a spirit of hospitality is!

* Look for gaps and disruptions in basic services. Are schoolchildren missing meals because school is cancelled? Does a single mom need temporary childcare while she goes to work? Does a recently unemployed family need a loan or cash gift from you, or maybe a tank of gas? Does the foreign-born family in your apartment need reassurance and explanation of new government and school district policies? If you can’t meet a specific need, I bet the members of your community group can pull something together. If that’s not enough, bring the matter to the wider church.

* As households or community groups, invite neighbors to gather with you for a neighborhood check in, meal, and even a time of prayer and reflection. (NOTE: Defer to health memos by local authorities on what size group gatherings are allowed or if eating as a group is recommended or safe.) Read Psalm 46. Exchange information, start a text group, begin checking on one another regularly. Download the NextDoor app.

* Don’t hoard. Share your toilet paper.

* Take care of your own soul. Spend some time alone with the Father. Turn on worship music and sing along. “Cast your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Pray with your children, too.

* Remember that as the church, we stand in a long line of faithful followers of Jesus who endured all sorts of trouble in their generation, too. It’s our time now. Let’s honor our Father and the sisters and brothers who went before us by clinging to our faith, being more generous than ever before, singing, grieving with hope, and caring for our neighbors.

Church, you’re up.

5 thoughts on “Church, You’re Up

  1. I love this! The only thing I would strongly disagree with is inviting people into close contact (by inviting neighbors over for dinner). According to authorities and people trained to respond to these things, the primary way we can keep others safe is to keep our physical distance as much as possible.

    So, to this list I would add that the church needs to be humble and encourage those around us to follow guidelines set in place by those in power whenever possible.

    I like the idea of taking meals though! That has a relatively low risk of transmission and is a loving thing to do.

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    1. Thank you Vanessa! I would agree that we should defer to health instructions regarding social distancing and group gatherings. If you’re in a place that is still ok to gather in small groups, though, this might be an option at least for awhile. Thoughts?

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      1. Maybe? I’m still struggling with that. I love my community so much, and distance from them will be hard right now. Ultimately I think there probably isn’t a perfect answer, but until we have more widespread testing available there’s no way to know who might be carrying the virus, and while I’m young and healthy and will probably be fine, others in my community might not… it’s a hard question for sure.

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