On March 7th, 2020 Jake Mulder said, “The church is calibrated for a world that doesn’t exist”. On that day I sat in an auditorium of 900+ people. I knew at the time it was a profound statement for the church, as it must be willing to consider how broken it has been to speak to the world it finds itself in. But none of us at the time knew how prophetic it would be, that within days of him speaking we would no longer be able to meet in groups of more than 100 inside and then a week later, no-one is able to meet face to face at all.
The world is in shutdown and it is not just the church that is calibrated for the world that no longer exists.
The church is now scrambling along with everyone else in the world to know how to function, and rightly so.
These are profound times. “Unprecedented” is the word I continue to hear. Everyone has a voice, a special announcement, an opinion, a way forward. Almost every sector of the world must re-think how we must do life as we now live in a world we are not calibrated for! The church must also do the same.
The mandate has never changed. It seems to me that the call is still to “love God and love our neighbor as ourselves”. And maybe because we have created lots of NEW ways to 'do' Church with all the right intentions, we NOW find ourselves scrambling to 'undo' all our structures to simply abide by new rules while still trying to maintain a “calibration” that maybe should have never existed in the first place.
I want to say in the words of our Australian prime minster “stop it”.
Now is the time to go back to the original design, the simplicity of meeting together … ‘where two or three are gathered I am there in the midst’. It is clear for a while that will have to start with Households. To love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Never in a long time in history have we truly had the opportunity to simply live this out in a way that I believe may truly fulfill the great commission, help save lives, help people not feel so alone, and help bring peace and hope to a panicked world.
Don’t miss this opportunity to change and re-think and recalibrate in a time when we HAVE to change. Let’s get it right this time. Let’s ask the right questions and not just think short term, but long term. Let’s not panic and react but deeply seek Him and what He is teaching us about how we are to respond.
In these times of re-thinking everything, Jake Mulder said something else that day that struck me. So often when we have to make changes, we approach it by the quick fix rather than considering the long-term gains. It seems this is the biggest discord among all Australians about how to flatten the curve of the corona virus. There are short term and long-term decisions that are constantly being weighed up against each other as World Leaders do their best to lead in this difficult time. I am not making any judgement about how and what they should be doing. I respect the difficult position they are in. But when it comes to being a leader in the Church, that’s the space I am called to consider how to move forward.
Jake described this as needing to decide between “lollies and chips” vs “Vegetables”. How many might choose “lollies and chips” over eating vegetables if we had to decide what we wanted to eat at a Saturday night party night. It’s the quick fix, the sugar rush, the thing that gets us through a tough spot, the thing that in the short term fills the gap and feels good at the same time. Although as leaders we have been thrown into needing to “think quick” in the past weeks, when we catch our breath, we need to think more long term and we know that the better thing to eat long term is vegetables. For many they are not as palatable and as easy to prepare and need more thought, but in the long term they are better for us and set us up for health long term.
The Quick fix has been to do everything online. The world has been set up for years with every online resource you can imagine. Teaching is accessible on any topic by the best communicators in the kingdom. The quick fix is there and yet pastors of all ages have spent these last weeks trying to get studios set up and record services for this Sunday. I have heard people say for years that the ‘Online” world is so dangerous, and now it may just be our savior.
BUT I believe it could also STILL be our greatest hindrance. It is not about the resource but how we use it. In the immediate, where physical isolation is important to flatten the curve, of course access what the church already has. But let’s not forget the Body of Christ and how each part has an important part to play. Why do we think unless your community hears the PASTORS voice it is not “Ok”. There is so much wisdom in the Kingdom; Prophets and Pastors all vying for their voice to be heard in this space. Let’s share the best voices of this time with the Kingdom all over the world and then pastors, let’s spend our time thinking through the “vegetables” - the long term. In 6-12 months from now where do we want to be? If it is still online and waiting for the next podcast we are in more trouble than ever.
As we ponder what the church should look like, let’s not JUST answer this question for the short term, to get us out of this hotspot, and do the quick fix with the view to return to how we have done things in the past as quickly as possible. Let’s consider the long term and how God might want to re-shape the future for the long term, to be much healthier faith communities, to fulfill the great commission in 6-8 months from here, and beyond, with what He wants us to start now.
There has never been a better time to be a good neighbor.
There has never been a better time to take the time to get to know our God more deeply and find peace, love and grace in the midst of confusion.
There has never been a better time to simplify what it means to truly do life together.
There has never been a better time to be with those you love and care for each other well, to listen, to provide basic things like milk and bread.
There has never been a better time to choose
wisely what you will spend your time doing, now that many things are no longer possible.
There has never been a better time to recalibrate what is really important in your life, what you need and don’t need.
There has never been a better time to be a good citizen.
There has never been a better time to lead b
There has never been a better time to bring peace to a hurting world.
There has never been a better time to be empathetic and other-centered.
It is time for the church of God to become re-calibrated for the world that exists now, and to rediscover that God has given us the tools and models all along. Its simply time to put them into practice.