Just Thinking » Covid-19

It’s a Sunday afternoon. Most Sunday afternoons I get home from the church, right about this time (it’s 2:15pm), after preaching 3 messages. Today was the third Sunday I didn’t do that, because the message was recorded on Video, and played (and watched) online. This, as they say, is the “new normal” for churches. It is a strange new normal. Especially in that this is Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday and Easter (next Sunday) are really important “events” for pastors and churches. For all intents and purposes, they still are this year, but our celebration of them is entirely different. If you had asked me even two weeks ago if I thought we would be celebrating Palm Sunday and Easter online only, I would given an emphatic “no.” But here we are, our new normal. 

I have to say, I am really grateful for our leadership and staff team. I feel that our team members have adapted to this very well, and—as the leader of this team—I’m super blessed. Though it has been a fair amount of work to get it all moving in a new direction. Additionally, I’m really interested in seeing how God uses these challenging circumstances to move His church out, into the new marketplace (which, in 2020, is not so new, at this point). 

In Acts 8, God used trying circumstances to move the early church out of Jerusalem, and into Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts. Jesus had predicted this move in Acts 1:8. He promised that the Holy Spirit would fill and empower the Church, and that they would be witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts.” But by Acts 8, the church was still in Jerusalem only. And it’s not like Acts 8 was only a few weeks after Acts 1. It is likely that Acts 8 was years after Acts 1. The church was stuck. 

The earliest work I did in ‘ministry’ was helping the church I grew up in (which happens to be the church I now pastor) get content online. In 1996 and 1997 I helped the church build its very first website. At that time we started archiving my pastor’s audio messages online using Real Audio (some of you might remember that technology). In the (nearly) quarter century that has passed, I’m sad to say that a lot of churches still have a website that looks like it was made in 1996, and they didn’t—until recently—have much in the form of audio/video content on their broken and old site. But trying circumstances have changed that. 

The trying circumstances of the early church (persecution, largely from Saul of Tarsus) pressured the church to move out, into the wide-open mission field they’d previously been called to and empowered for. And, if we can receive it, the trying circumstances of Covid-19 has pressured the church to move out into the wide-open mission field of the Internet; a place we should have been taking ground in all along.

Yes, the content that is being put out by a lot of churches is not (yet) highly produced. But at least the content is out there, and now we can get better and better at it. This is a good thing, and I am rejoicing in these trying circumstances, because I believe God is going to use this for His glory, and for the growth of His Kingdom! 

6 replies
  1. Jeanne DeBenedictis
    Jeanne DeBenedictis says:

    Amen Miles,
    Very well said. May we, the church, be found praying, sowing and reaping in these current times and into the future. There is much work to do, to reach those who need to know the Savior we love.

  2. Ken Pilbin
    Ken Pilbin says:

    Agreed!! God’s will, will be done. He has a plan knowing the needs in advance and He will use His people to reach those in need locally and around the world. It truly has been a blessing to see Cross Connection literally dispersed into all of our homes (similar to Harvest) and now many are able to take a sneak peek into the Word of God when they maybe never would have stepped into the building. It will be interesting to see how “the church” is changed but without a doubt God’s Word will not return void.

  3. Lynn Cass
    Lynn Cass says:

    We know that so many people are hearing Gods word due to the current situation in the world. Many people are learning for the
    first time what Gods word is all about and for those who would possibly never come to a church building and by only hearing each message on a device. like we all are doing. We miss the fellowship and know that someday we will once again enjoy each other’s company but for now we are blessed and learning. We are so grateful for you Miles and the church staff. You have come a long ways in keeping the body updated with the current ways to share Gods word and for that we are truly grateful, You all work so hard to spread Gods word. Continue what you are doing and know it is much appreciated Love, Rob and Lynn Cass

  4. Sue Sabbaugh
    Sue Sabbaugh says:

    While I am eagerly awaiting our return to a physical building with all my brothers & sisters, I am so excited about virtual church! It has given us an opportunity to reach people outside of our “little” realm here in Escondido. A chance for far away friends and family to hear God’s Word and be convicted enough to find a Bible teaching church home, once we go back to “normal”. God’s plan is far bigger than we imagine! This is a time for us as Christians to rededicate ourselves to sharing the love of Christ; to be ready explain about the hope we have. 1 Peter 3:15

  5. Phil Stivers
    Phil Stivers says:

    Well said Pastor. I give thanks everyday for the foresight and connectivity of this church. The embracing of technology (even before current events) has allowed me to expand my knowledge and worship of our Lord. Initially “The Listening Plan” provided daily support sand guidance, then came “The Questions Podcast”. I have since research past sermon series in Romans and others. Always learning and giving thanks. The knowledge gained has made it possible to answer questions and enter into biblical discussion with my spouse; to both our benefit.
    I miss the “togetherness” of church. Staying connected is difficult especially when you are “new” to various groups. Connecting by reaching out is good, but being “reached for” is encouraging and promotes feelings of belonging.

  6. Mark Williams
    Mark Williams says:

    I agree Pastor, I believe God is moving through all of this to stretch His Church and I look forward to seeing the results, to Him be all glory! Thank you to your commitment to this body of believers!


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