After the Pandemic (by Jon Shuler​​)

For many of us in the developed world the pandemic may seem over, but for most of the peoples of the earth it is far from over. Still in this country we have seemed to pass the worst of it, at least we pray so. Epidemiologists tell us, however, that this new disease has now been added to those that will be with us for the future. It will not go away. We will, perhaps, be getting regular boosters for a long time. The Covid 19 pandemic has disrupted the whole world, as all who read this know, and not least it has disrupted the Church. What have we learned? Or perhaps better, what do we need to learn from this disruption? 

Those of us who lead have certainly discovered that the communities we lead are much less stable than we might have thought. The number of regular attenders has dropped significantly, and not all seem likely to return soon, if ever. It is almost as though the discovery of the extra time on the Lord’s Day has become a coveted reality that takes the place of worship with the family of God. Though a remnant have been faithful throughout, and returned fully when free to do so, many have clearly drifted away. Who is truly a member has become an unknown to ponder.

The first question that I began to ask is one my readers will be familiar with: “Are we really making true disciples of Jesus?” Other questions follow soon after. If a man or woman is truly born again of the spirit of God, would they be so casual about their participation in the life of Christ’s church? Can I be a sincere disciple and remain apart from other believers week by week? Does the gospel mean so little to me that I can take it or leave it, according to my own whims?

These are serious questions, and avoiding them, as a leader, is surely a grievous error. Shepherds will be held accountable at that Great Day. What then should we do?

Always, and everywhere, the path through such times has been that of repentance and renewal. Nothing else can ever take the place of this truth. And always it is hardest for those in public leadership. Revival almost never begins with those who are already charged with the task of caring for the people of God. But it should.

What might the outcome be, if the ordained leaders in your town or region came together to humble themselves under God’s hand? What might happen if the petty jealousies and rivalries were confessed and put away? What might the Holy Spirit do if the leaders of a town knelt under the throne of God and begged him for new life? For themselves and for their people. What if the Word of God was truly unbound in their lives and preaching?

Next Week: “Those People” Are The Problem

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