What Have I Learned About Hope Church During the COVID-19 Shutdown ?

 In Jason Bunger, Preaching & Teaching

It is said that a “crisis reveals character.”  At this point, we are about 15 weeks into our COVID-19 shutdown.  And it looks like this will continue for another month.  This morning I began to reflect on what I have learned about Hope Church through this time and it gave great joy to consider the following:

  1. We are a church filled with incredibly gracious people.  As far back as March 12, I began hearing horror stories about how division over this lockdown would divide churches.  It was said, “If you go online only, people will say you are not leading in faith and never return to church.”  Following that, it was said, “If you ask people to wear a mask you are impeding on their freedom.  If you ask them not to wear a mask, you are putting them in danger.  In fact, this could be the most divisive issue for the church in the last 50 years.”  Yet, the Hope Church family has been so kind and gracious.  We know we are trying to serve everyone, keep everyone safe and move toward a return to normality.  We have been kind and bearing with one another and I am so thankful for that.
  2. When we are forced to change, we can actually do it very quickly.  Our media team in one week went from a group of people that run sound on Sunday to a team that records and edits video in just one week! It is amazing how people that before March had no idea how to turn on a computer, yet now are able to participate in Zoom Bible studies.
  3. We have some amazingly faithful people.  Experts were saying that with people not being able to attend on Sunday, that participation would drop instantly.  However, at Hope we are actually seeing the exact opposite happen.  Throughout the majority of the lockdown, more people have been viewing the service than previously attended each week.  Community group participation is solid and actually new people are able to participate because of disrupted scheduling and access to technology.  And of course, people have continued to give faithfully, consistently and sacrificially.
  4. We care about each other deeply.  Technology affords us the opportunity to sing, study, serve and view from home.  However, it is simply no substitute for being together.  The Greek word for “church” has the originally meaning “gathering/assembly” in the first century.  I hear people say, “Don’t go to church.  Be the church.”  I know these people mean well and they are sincere that we should (and I agree) use our time, talents and treasures to make a difference in our world.  But, by definition, the gathering is not the gathering if everyone is not gathering.  Likewise, the church is not the church if the church is not gathering as the church.  It feels so different and discouraging to not be able to see everyone.  And I think it should.  It means that we miss one another because we love one another.   This is a reminder that God created the church for one another, as the body of Christ, to mutually encourage one another.

As I have been saying throughout this pandemic: “Stay Home.  Stay Safe.  Stay Healthy.”  And I do mean that.  However, I can’t wait for us to gather together shorty so that I can say.  “Welcome Home.  I am glad you are safe.  It is good to see you are healthy.”  Until then, see you online…and thank you for being you.

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