In the first post in a two-part series, I posed the question, “Would your church survive a pandemic?” In that post, we looked at practical stuff. How can we make sure churches aren’t contagion enablers. We also did a little exploration on what we could to avoid or enable pandemics. In the post I thought we’d imagine church life through a pandemic. How do we continue with the spiritual formation and discipleship in the wake of pandemics?
Global mobility has made it easy to spread disease or amplify the impact of pandemics. The response to the challenges as church will depend on some thought and planning.
In this previous post I alluded to how gathering-intensive church life is. Regardless of their size, gathering is at the centre of Christian community. The writer of Hebrews and Paul encourage us to make sure we continue to.
In a pandemic or viral outbreaks, this might not always be the wisest. In some extreme cases, the law could even restrict or ban meetings of certain size.
If we can’t meet in large groups, then small(er) groups will have to take prominence. This could be for congregants. It increases the likelihood of congregants knowing each other better. It can help foster community. Facilitating the gathering or connection of these small groups, is something churches need to have in place.
This could be a challenge if there aren’t any existing groups. And, if there are, the likelihood is high that not all in the church take part. This might mean building more capacity when it comes to hosts, homes or other meeting venues. Another area needing attention is how to “run” the groups.
Will you need liaisons in each group to link with others so that there’s a flow of information? etc.
This isn’t as far-fetched as it was in pre-Internet 2.0. Theologians, church leaders, and other Christians debate this. Despite the discussions pandemics are argument for some of the internet church solutions. This would include VR church.
Live-streaming worship and biblical teaching is more important than ever. This with opportunities and means to engage and respond, of course. Those for church apps are likely to feel their cause strengthened here. Podcasts, blogs, church Facebook groups, email newsletters and such become even more critical.
How can congregants and the community reach out for help? If someone succumbed to illness during a ban on gathering or movement, how would others know? Churches might need to coordinate not only among themselves but with authorities in getting help where it is needed.
It is in crisis our presence and love matters even more. Have you thought about how you can be the light in the wake of a pandemic?
You could not only educate congregants on outbreaks but where and how to get help too. This could be help from and through the church but also other initiatives.
Misc. On Church Life Through A Pandemic
At the least, church life through a pandemic can be about harnessing what already exists. The question(s) church leaders should ask is how to leverage that. Especially when there are restrictions on gathering.
Believers should be mature enough to flourish in the absence of the large gatherings. We’d be failing as the church if faith of congregants depended on large gatherings only.
Sustaining church life through a pandemic is, in part, about leveraging tech. It also calls into question the ‘quality’ of some of our spiritual formation / discipleship activities / efforts.