“Catalyst definition – a person or thing that precipitates (or stimulates) an event.” During this season that we are experiencing there are many feelings being felt and played out right before us. This pandemic has been the catalyst or agent that has turned our known world upside-down. When people talk about the situation there seems to be one negative though after another describing how it has changed their lives. Everything from wearing the mask, to business and institutional shutdowns plaguing our communities big and small, to the fierce debate for weather or not to get the vaccine.
It has been difficult for everyone from pastor to layperson in the church. pastors have had to try to wrap their heads around the fact that we did not have a Easter service that was in person, to a Christmas season void of any plays, dinners, or even candle light services. Seems as if this “pandemic” has cast a long shadow so deep and dark that some begin to think we may never recover.
But what if we see the pandemic as a positive change, for the church that we live our lives in and through, to our own outlook as a way that God can use us in a unique and creative way? This pandemic has been a catalyst of change for a wide range of emotions and unprecedented reactions.
Yes there are some negative connotations for the pandemic, but there is potential for positive change for the church which, if we take full advantage of now, can help propel the church forward like we would have never imaged before. In my estimation, Christ has been able to produce change at a rate that would have taken decades if ever in the church. Almost overnight churches have went from exclusively in-person to combining it with online and live video.
Lets look at some of the ways that the change catalyst has helped the church:
- The future leans more favorably toward the smaller, innovative churches even better than the larger church in their operations and effectiveness. A small church, that is strategically small, is one that has become secure in their own identity. They have learned that their size can have unique advantages. The connectivity of relationships are cultivated with more intimate roots.
- Larger churches, whether they realize it or not, are mimicking the concept of the smaller church. The largest church in our region of 75,000+ people with several satellite campuses, will admit that the success of their church body is small groups. Small groups, small gatherings, and house meetings are quintessentially small churches. The bigger churches are breaking down into smaller groups because they know that is how relationship are nourished and cultivated. It produces the more intimate gathering, to know each other even better. Groups of people are being encouraged to be smaller and the biggest part of churches are already doing that.
- Another way that this pandemic is causing us to see change is how the authenticity of relationships are being played out. Pre-covid we would see people as they came to church and would express this with hugs and hearty handshakes, expressing how much they mean to us and say how much we love each other. How we missed them since the week before and asked how their week was. The test of those relationship have been put to the test since covid. If we will admit to God and ourselves, many of the relationships were at best superficial. For many they have been unable to return to the church for health reasons or other complications but how often have they been reached out to or visited since this pandemic started. For many of us, not enough. Has anyone been victims of out of sight, out of mind?
- It has been said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The driving force for most new inventions is a need. During this pandemic season there has absolutely been a need for innovation in the church to be able to continue ministry in an effective way. The term that was used extensively in the beginning was “pivot.” A church that has been able to pivot has been able to change effectively. The message has not changed and the foundation is as solid as ever, but we have been forced to change the approach for which we deliver that same powerful message of the Gospel.
- Empowerment of local talents. The pandemic has been a catalyst for change in a good way for local church talent and leadership also. It has given opportunity for people that never thought before that they could do anything for the Kingdom, they are now seeing and taking the opportunity that is presented to them through this pandemic. When extraordinary opportunity exposed itself to them, people have the chance to step up and step in to roles that they never dreamed before. It can empower them to achieve God things for the Kingdom.
Let me encourage you today that you do not have to run and hide from the change that has been thrust upon us, but embrace it as a opportunity that the Lord Himself has presented us a means of furthering the Kingdom in ways that we would have dreamed of before this unpresented time. Jesus is still the King and Lord of all and none of this has caught Him by surprise.
Pastor Rob Beckett, Shepherdsville First Church of the Nazarene
Restoring the “Image of God” to the broken and hurting