Standing Ready

Disasters come whether one is prepared or not, and tragically most churches fail to prepare for disaster events in their community.

As Stephen Cyros declared, “Remember, when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed.”

Be prepared as a church by:

  1. Encouraging the need for preparation. Church leaders can lead in providing disaster preparation information that includes safety, first-aid, needed supplies, and evacuation or shelter instructions to those in our churches. People who are prepared have increased survivability in times of disaster.
  2. Assessing the greatest and most likely disaster threats for your community.
  3. Examining the church property to determine if there are ways to minimize loss and to improve the church’s ability to withstand a disaster event.
  4. Ensuring that the membership understands evacuation or sheltering plans if a disaster occurs while the church is gathered.
  5. Devising a plan to check on church members in the aftermath of disasters. Focus a priority on the most vulnerable in your family of faith such as the elderly, those with disabilities, single mothers, and those with health issues. This could be a great ministry for deacons or other church ministry groups.
  6. Developing a ministry plan for the church in the aftermath of disasters. Often churches miss opportunities to meet real needs and to have life-changing impact with families in the aftermath of disasters because they have not planned for a disaster. Crisis events open doors for the Gospel as people are seeking help and answers. God has placed the church in communities to be His hands and voice, but we need to think about how we can best help survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.
  7. Connecting with other churches in your community and other organizations to discuss how to prepare and respond to disasters. Most County Emergency Managers would welcome churches who genuinely want to help, and who have a plan to meet vital needs. We can always do more together than any of us can do alone.
  8. Being prepared to pivot the focus of the church in the aftermath of a disaster. The day after a disaster strikes your community is probably not the time to begin a new ministry, but the church demonstrates a lack of compassion and awareness if it does not pivot from the routine and put priority focus on responding to the loss that disasters bring. In the aftermath of disasters, the church needs to show the Gospel in action.

The Scripture gives a great word for the church as we seek to prepare for times of disaster in Proverbs 27:12,

“The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Make Sure Zoe’s Not the Last

Last fall, Rockcastle Baptist Association hosted and implemented “Give Hope”, a Christmas Backpack distribution for children in the area.  A young lady named Zoe, who was very shy and hesitant, came and selected a backpack filled with surprises to take home.  She heard the gospel shared and enjoyed the activities and events of the day.  Later that night after arriving home, she opened the backpack to discover a Bible.  Zoe had never had her own Bible and was interested and curious to explore the stories within.  Although she struggled with depression and anxiety, while reading her new Bible she experienced an overwhelming sense of trust, peace, and joy. Zoe was so excited to learn that God could love someone like her and that He died to give her life!  Full of joy, she came out of her room crying and hugging her mom.  I don’t know the individual or church that packed and prepared the backpack for Zoe, but God does, and He worked through them to reveal Himself to a young girl in need of hope.  

Not many months from now, backpacks full of clothes, toys and food items will be distributed and the gospel shared by missionaries and church planters with other children like Zoe. I anticipate the number of families needing help at Christmas this year to be even greater because of high unemployment due to COVID-19.  Business is returning slowly in the Commonwealth, but the future remains uncertain for so many who are still out of work, or only allowed to return part-time. 

The increased need for backpacks and the hope they provide is challenged by the fact that many churches are just now returning to in-person gatherings because of coronavirus restrictions.  That challenge is exacerbated because most small groups and mission organizations who normally assume the responsibility for leading the initiative are still not meeting. 

For this reason, your help is needed so that other children can experience at Christmas this year, the joy and hope that Zoe discovered.   Prayerfully consider the following:

  • Use your social media network to promote the effort and encourage others to participate in preparing and packing a backpack.
  • Some small groups and mission organization are using Zoom, MicroSoft Teams, or Google Groups to stay connected during this time.  Use these platforms to tell about the need and share how your group can get involved. 
  • Lead your family to shop for and pack a backpack, praying together for the child that will receive it.  This is a great way for children to join mom and dad in showing the love of Christ. 
  • Take a few minutes during Sunday worship, in-person, on the parking lot or online, to promote the Christmas backpacks and determine to be the church, not just go!
  • Let us know how many backpacks you plan to pack by registering online so that we can coordinate with the needs of missionaries and church planters.

The coronavirus is not the first challenge the church has confronted when meeting needs and sharing the gospel, and it most likely will not be the last.  Zoe wasn’t the first person to come to Christ because of Christmas backpacks, and my prayer is that she will not be the last.  Let’s work together through this crisis and creatively explore how we might most effectively prepare backpacks to be shared at Christmas, so that Christ will be made known, again and again and again!

For more information about Christmas backpacks, contents, packing, dates and delivery, visit:  www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.

What is Missions in the New Normal?

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” As pastors and church leaders empowering our congregations to reassemble for worship and live for Christ in a post Covid context, we must ask ourselves and our churches some challenging questions. Has our hope and joy always been in Christ and the kingdom of heaven? As church buildings have been empty, attendance numbers not counted, budgets potentially altered, are we striving to simply return to normal, so we can persevere and endure as the church at Ephesus? Who or what is our first love? Is Christ calling us to “go” back to Church or to “be” the Church?

As a Great Commission people, we are called to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, by either planting churches among those who have never heard of Christ, or by revitalizing churches among those who have forgotten about Christ. But during this pandemic, it feels like everything has been on hold. Church members are asking how to be the church in our current situation, and what does missions in the new normal look like?  

The book of Jeremiah reminds us that because of Israel’s unwillingness to turn from their idols, God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Israel and the temple. Most of the vessels of the sanctuary and many of the Jews were carried away to Babylon as slaves for 70 years. Israel had their nation and their identity taken from them, and they longed to get back to the way things were. The false prophet Hananiah told them what they wanted to hear, which was that they would return home in two years. But God told His people that while they were captives in Babylon, they were to build houses, plant gardens, and instead of decreasing, they were to marry and continue to increase. In addition, they were to seek the welfare of the city in which they lived and to pray to the Lord for it because their own welfare would come from the welfare of that city.

Their situation should resonate with us during this time. We must recognize that God does not always want us to get back to the way things were. He is doing something during this time to awaken His people. We may be in these circumstances for a while, or at least in some form. God uses times like these to challenge His people both personally and corporately. He desires idols to fall and the church to return to its biblical core.

So, what are we to do as we come out of this pandemic? How has God refined us during this situation, and what has changed moving forward? Remember, during this time of sheltering in place, many have been plowing new ground for the kingdom. The kingdom advances every time you teach Scripture in a Zoom Bible study and someone turns to the Lord or they surrender a part of their heart they have been holding on to. The kingdom advances every time someone who never would have come to church watches an online service. The kingdom advances every time the church is pushed to get away from traditionalism and to define their worship services by the core elements seen in Scripture. The kingdom advances every time another pastor stays the course instead of yielding to discouragement.

Pastors and church leaders, as the ones whom the Lord has called to feed His sheep, may we lead our churches to Repent of our Idols, Return to being the Church, and Reimagine Missions in the New Normal:

  1. Repent of our Idols
    • Idol of Event
    • Idol of Success
    • Idol of Gifted Leader
    • Idol of Busyness
  2. Return to being the Church
    • Return to the New Testament Vision of the Church
    • Return or revisit God’s call to Worship, Discipleship, Ministry, Fellowship, Evangelism, Prayer
    • Return or Revisit the characteristics of a healthy church
      • Evangelism, Discipleship, Membership, Leadership
      • Preaching and Teaching, Ordinances, Worship, Fellowship
      • Prayer, Accountability and Discipline, Giving, Missions
    • Return or Revisit leadership roles
      • Pastors equipping the saints
      • Servant Deacons caring for the vulnerable
      • Every Believer ministering the gospel
  3. Reimagine Missions in the New Normal
    • Maintain missions as our catalyzing principle
    • Ground our mission strategy in God’s Word. Missiology is not methodology; it is applied Theology.
    • Work together and serve one another. Individualism is killing the American church.

Shepherds, as we seek to be the church and share the gospel in the new normal, let our first love be Christ and His word!  Let us equip the saints to not only find their joy and identity in Christ alone, but also to share their joy and the hope of the gospel in a fallen world. Let us love and serve our families well, and may we be willing to sacrifice everything for the glory of God. Remember, missions in the New Normal is simply missions in the New Testament.

The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact me, John Barnett, at [email protected] May the Lord continue to give us wisdom, as we continue to seek His face. (Ref: IMB, BSCNC).

On a Mission From God

Moses was chosen, called, and commissioned by the Lord to deliver and lead the people of God.  Though reluctant to lead at first, Moses demonstrated himself to be a skilled and effective leader.  His uniquely close relationship with God was the foundation of his leadership and enabled him to lead amid a diverse and often difficult group of people.  God himself spoke this validating word of Moses in Numbers 12:7, “He is faithful in all My house.” 

Throughout his journey of faith Moses demonstrated that leaders must have vision, perseverance, and the ability to endure the pain of leadership without compromising their character.  Our character as leaders is always on display to those around us and to those who follow us.  If we crumble and fall into the pit of unhealthy leadership and practices, it will have crippling and devastating consequences for the people entrusted to our care as leaders. If we are not healthy as church leaders then the family of faith will be vulnerable to the plague of disorder and dysfunction.

Humble leaders attract followers and create an environment of trust, and trust is vital to healthy relationships and healthy organizations. Arrogant, autocratic leaders may dominate for a time, but they do not build trust among those who follow them. And eventually, most see their kingdoms crumble around them in the tremors of seismic rebellion.  There is a difference in leading people and driving people. 

 Spiritual leaders have been entrusted by God to lead those whom God has placed in their care. Humble servant leadership is not weak leadership. For leaders, it is not between being strong or weak, the choice is between building God’s kingdom and helping people discover God’s purpose for their lives or building our own little earthly kingdoms and exploiting those entrusted to us.

Leaders who are strong and humble value the people entrusted to them, and when you find this kind of leader, you will find healthy and growing churches and organizations. This is the kind of leader that people will follow.  This kind of leader produces confidence in the heat of the battle.  This kind of leader inspires trust when storms arise.  This kind of leader motivates people to reach heights they never dreamed possible. Ultimately, this kind of leader enables people to reach the place promised to them by God.

It is a paradox that the one whom God entrusts in leadership can be both humble and visionary; he can be a person of grace and yet bold; he can be consumed and yet at peace; he can be filled with compassion and yet speak the truth without compromise. Moses learned the lessons of leadership as a shepherd in the desert and by answering God’s calling with trembling yet unwavering faith.  And in the end, it was said of him in Deuteronomy 34:10, “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

When leaders recognize the privilege of being chosen and called by God and give of themselves to humbly serve those entrusted to them, they are secure and can endure because they know, as Elwood Blues put it, that they “are on a mission from God.”

It’s a Perfect Fit

For several years, the Kentucky Baptist Convention has helped local churches and associations to conduct medical and dental clinics that minister to the needs of people in their communities.  The clinics have traditionally been conducted on weekends during the months of March, April and May.  However, the work to meet the medical and spiritual needs of people through the clinics begins months earlier.   The KBC equips churches, assisting with volunteer and medical personnel enlistment, evangelism training, logistics, clinic set up and a follow-up strategy.   

One of the resources provided to churches hosting a clinic is use of a modern, state of the art dental unit owed by SEND Relief of the North American Mission Board.  The cost of the unit and supplies used while in Kentucky are provided by the KBC as a service to our churches. The unit has two operatories and is fully equipped to perform most any dental service, including x-ray. 

The dental unit was purchased with Annie Armstrong Easter offering gifts and is needed to perform the services provided at the clinics, but it isn’t nearly as effective without Martha Smith.  Martha has faithfully served as the primary coordinator on the dental unit since the KBC’s first clinic.  She was ready to go again this year, until COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the clinics scheduled for 2020. 

Martha has been working in dentistry since 1975.  She brings to the clinic each weekend she volunteers, her love for the Lord, her experience in the dental field and an infectious smile.  This ministry allows Martha to mix her two passions, dentistry and helping others.  “It’s a perfect fit for me!”  The weekends on the dental unit are long.  They begin with set up and prep before the clinic opens and Martha won’t finish till the clinic ends and everything has been cleaned and put back in its place. 

It’s obvious that Martha loves what she does and just as obvious is the fact that the dentists and assistants volunteering on the unit love her.  It’s not uncommon for a church hosting a clinic to ask, “is Martha coming again?”  

Martha shared with me that she enjoys listening to and sharing with those who come to the clinics for help. God has opened her eyes through the ministry to the many problems and difficult situations people find themselves in.   They come to the clinics for medical and dental help, but Martha knows that their real need is spiritual healing that only Jesus can provide. 

Martha is thankful that God has provided this avenue of ministry for her.  “I don’t know why Christians think they need to go overseas to serve, when there are so many opportunities for using our gifts and sharing the gospel right here in our own communities”, she said. 

I’m excited and thankful that Martha is willing to use the gifts God has given her for His glory.  She and so many others are blessed because of her obedient service.  Christ followers will always find it a “perfect fit” when we use the gifts and talents God has given us for His glory. 

Listen, Lament, Pray, Repent

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. The Gospel is about reconciliation with God through Christ that results in peace between all relationships, where God and man, man and woman, humanity and creation can flourish and work as He intended. As believers, we are ambassadors for Christ, and we are to proclaim the gospel to people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Questions: How do we partner with Him? How do we become faithful, obedient witnesses?

As the Body of Christ, it is not just in the wake of scandal, civil unrest, abuse or unjust actions, that we should speak forth the gospel, but in all places to all peoples where brokenness reigns and Jesus’ kingdom is not being reflected or preached. As believers in a fallen and broken world, we should continually lament, confess, repent, and seek reconciliation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are some steps to help us in these challenging days:

  1. Acknowledge that these are not isolated incidents. Abuse, racism, mass shooting, brutality, corruption, and war are not isolated incidents. Violence, oppression, land theft, racialization, classism, and genocide against people of color and other vulnerable people exist not only in other countries around the world, but also in the US as well. Poverty, inequality, and abortion are not one-off happenings and the scourge of greed, self-absorption, and fractured families are part of every community and daily life in a fallen world. Current events are moments that push suffering to the forefront of man’s consciousness, but this suffering is constant. As believers in the States, we need to speak out against racial oppression and atrocities that are committed against our neighbors, who are black and brown, not only today and tomorrow, but also every day until the Lord returns. Romans 12:15-16 says, not only to rejoice with those who rejoice but to mourn with those who mourn. As the church, we must place our hope in Christ alone, and work together as His ambassadors!
  2. Please stop talking and listen. Take time to listen to those people in pain and who are immobilized by grief and wrestling with anger and rage because of the constant and consistent suffering and violence in the world highlighted by events in the headlines or a particularly tough season in their lives. Read James 1:19-20.  
  3. Lament and Confess.
    1. Cry. There is no shame, condemnation, or weakness in weeping.  Share with a friend, pastor, or leader out loud why you are angry, sad, or afraid and allow your emotions to come. Read Psalm 13 or 88 and write out these truths in your own words if you have difficulty getting thoughts together.
    1. Confess: It is sin and violation of God’s purposes in this world when we crush the image of God in other people either implicitly or explicitly by actively oppressing the poor and marginalized or passively allowing them to continue. Read Psalm 103 and write these truths in your own words if you have difficulty.
  4. Forgiveness and Blessing.
    1. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah enters God’s Holy presence, and he is convicted of sin and immediately confesses. Instead of being condemned, he was cleansed and sent out as a witness. Similarly, when we confess our sinfulness before God, He is just and mighty to forgive us, not condemn us.
    1. Ask the Lord to expose any tensions or challenges of prejudice, racism or unexposed anger or bitterness in your heart. If needed, ask your neighbor, brother, or sister for forgiveness for your words, deeds, actions, or inaction.
  5. What does it look like to Repent & Reconcile practically? Repentance means that we turn away from our sin by confessing our sins to Christ, asking for forgiveness, and following God’s word in deed and action through the power of the Holy Spirit. Reconciliation is the work of God, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, to bring about peace with God and man. Here are some first steps:
    1. Pray: Alone or with a group, grab your bible, a journal and pray. If you do not know how to pray, the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-12 is a great place to start. You can email [email protected] and we can share some resources with you as well.
    1. Proclaim: Read Psalm 24. In it we see that the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. That means our schedules, finances, the ground we stand on, the air we breathe, and the bodies we have belong to Him. Write down the time, talent, and treasure that you have and ask the Lord to show you can use those gifts to share gospel and be an ambassador for Christ! Praise the Lord for what he has given to you and offer it ALL back to God because He gave it to you!
    1. Partner: With the time, talent and treasure you brought to God, look at ways you can partner with your church and leverage them to share Christ and serve the poor, marginalized, oppressed, and displaced people in your community, state, nation, or around the world. Then, follow through with what the Lord shows you. Keep in mind, success is not in the progress but the obedience to the God who loves us.

The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, concerns, or need help getting connected, email me at [email protected] or call 502-489-3404.

Do Not Be Alarmed

For most of us our world has changed in 2020.  Our world has been drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are washing our hands and using sanitizer more.  We are social distancing and wearing face masks as we try to not get too close to one another.  Many of us have stockpiled food, water, and even toilet paper.  We are weary of the nightly reports of stay-at-home extensions, new cases, death counts, and growing unemployment.  Most Americans believe that it will be a long time before things return to normal, and social media chirps constantly about the new norm.  As we begin the re-opening process, it appears the response to this deadly disease has left us with more questions than answers.

The pandemic has ground our economy to a halt, but it has not slowed the famine in Sub-Saharan Africa that has left millions starving.  It has not ended the Iranian – U.S. tensions that witnessed another close encounter in the Persian Gulf this week.  According to the United Nations Refugee Agency it has not decelerated the number of displaced people across our globe.  Nor has it curbed the active early tornado season that spawned over 100 twisters and left 73 people dead.

I do not claim to be an expert, but I think that I can accurately proclaim, life can be a dangerous venture.  The journey of life often passes through dark valleys.  Valleys that can leave us anxious, frightened, and insecure.  And many ponder “What if it all gets worse?”

As I read the Bible, I am thankful that God is honest with us.  Jesus shared with His disciples and reminds us that difficult days will come. He tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that there will be wars and rumors of wars, famines, pandemics, and natural disasters.  He predicts His church will be persecuted, people will turn on each other and spew hatred against their neighbor, false prophets will appear, and wickedness will increase.  Jesus shares that things are going to get worse before they get better. 

Yet do not miss an important word that Jesus shares with His followers right in the middle of this calamity-filled proclamation.  Jesus shares this key directive in Matthew 24:6 as he teaches about the coming tribulation, “See that you are not alarmed.”  This word “alarm” in the ancient language means “to wail, to cry out in despair, to be hysterical.”  Jesus counsels us when bad stuff comes, do not panic, or fall apart.  And He tells us why with His next words in this passage of Scripture, “because these things must take place.”

Must is a vital word in this passage because it asserts that all events, everything that takes place in this world, from the mundane to the chaotic are part of God’s plan.  God uses all things to accomplish His purposes and plans.  When the world seems to be careening out of control, be reminded that God is still on His throne, and our Lord has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us. He declares to us that trials and tribulations will come in this world and they are very real, but do not let these present troubles blind you to the fact that a better world is coming.  Jesus has formulated the predictive model for our world’s pandemic, and He has established a treatment plan that will cure all that is wrong in our present age.

If you have placed your faith in Christ, it will all work out in the end, and by His grace, He will get you through today and tomorrow. And by the way, if this world is a chaotic mess, be assured it is not yet the end.

3 Keys for Sharing Christ with Muslims

For over two decades, the Lord has blessed me with opportunities to serve Him by sharing the gospel with Muslims around the world. As 1.8 Billion Muslims are fasting and praying during Ramadan in midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, now is the time for Christians to share Christ. Here are three keys:

1. Prayer and Fasting

Let us confess it before Christ. Christians usually fall short in this area. We profess to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but all too easily we fall into the habit of relying on our own efforts. Among the conversions I observed, prayer and fasting were a common denominator, and God was moving. In order to reach peoples who are entrenched in other belief systems, we may very well need to engage in all-night prayer as our Lord practiced. It may mean fasting and pleading with God to break barriers and open hearts. Prayer and fasting are not man-centered ways to manipulate God or attempt to force his hand. Rather, they convey our utter helplessness to win souls. They express our total dependence upon the power of God, and the truth of the gospel (Matt 6:16-18)!

2. Real Relationships

There is no generic Muslim. There are diverse individuals who practice the same faith. When we think our calling is only to win people to Christ, it can turn the missionary task into something detached, impersonal, and faceless. Instead, we must realize and actively remind ourselves that it is our calling to win people to Jesus. We win individuals, and every person is not only an image-bearer whom God loves, but also every person needs Christ. Every Muslim I know said they knew of at least one Christian they could go to with their questions when God began to work in their lives. Maybe you can be that one. But you must be a true friend, even if they never convert.

3. Jesus Stories

Serving others is commendable, but it is not enough. The gospel is a message that must be verbally shared and carefully explained. A Muslim background believer I know once shared with me that Muslims view loving service from Christians as something that should be expected as if Christians owe them a debt. In other words, they think Christians should serve them because Muslims have the final revelation from God . . . or so they believe. It will never do to merely love and serve Muslims in the name of Christ. Humanitarian aid is wonderful, but it is not the ultimate need of Muslim people. The Word of God must be spoken to them. The gospel must be proclaimed. Muslims must be called into account before the true and living God. The Bible calls God’s Word “the sword of the Spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Acts of love and service are good, but they are not the heart of the missionary task.

It has become my practice to speak to my Muslim friends just like I would talk to a friend in church. I share what God taught me during my quiet time in his Word. I talk about stories from Scripture or Bible verses that apply to both of us. They may ask, “Are you trying to convert me?” I simply respond, “Only God can speak to our hearts and convince us of truth.” Until they walk away, I keep sharing the Word. As we pray and fast for Muslims during this Ramadan season, may we bring Jesus into every encounter with our Muslim friends, and trust him open hearts to gospel. Remember, it is never a matter of if, but it is only a matter of when the next person will believe. When the gospel is preached, the Lord changes heart for His glory.

If you or your church have any questions or want to learn more about reaching Muslims for Christ, please email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected]

Teach Me to Do Your Will During COVID-19

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief remains ready to respond during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to partner with Kentucky Emergency Management and other responders. The pandemic has been unlike any previous crisis response and we have been forced to adapt and be creative in our response. For example, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief donated 12,150 N-95 masks to medical workers and facilities in Kentucky from our flood recovery inventory and prepared almost 6000 meals for children to fill a gap for a school system in Western Kentucky. This is not our typical ministry during a disaster, but it provided opportunities for us to be salt and light during this crisis.

When disasters create havoc in communities, churches along with Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief are to be faithful and to minister with Godly compassion. The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed our ability to react in the same ways that we typically respond in times of disaster. Yet the church remains called by God to minister when our neighbors are hurting and overwhelmed.

Here are some thoughts for ministry during this time:

  1. Pray for our neighbors, and for God to bring healing to our state. Pray for opportunities to engage in spiritual conversations.
  2. Be agents of peace who calm rather than encourage panic.  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of sound mind.
  3. Seek to encourage others and to demonstrate the hope that we have in Christ. Many people are more open to Gospel conversations during seasons of crisis as they are awakened to the frailty of life.
  4. Develop a plan to check on the most vulnerable in your congregation and community. Those who might be ill, or who are at higher risk.  This does not have to be direct contact.  It could be by phone, text, or email.
  5. Develop a plan on how the church might deliver basic supplies to people in need.  This plan should include safety precautions so that we minister but minimize risk to those whom we are ministering.  We want to help those in need but not create risks that could further infect ourselves or others.
  6. Look for creative ways to worship, to share spiritual truths, to demonstrate compassion, and to minister in this unique time. This will require us to think out of the box, but it also creates opportunities to take the church beyond the four walls of our buildings.

Be reminded that the church has always been willing to run toward not away from times of crisis for the sake of Christ and our neighbors.  This is a difficult time that is causing many to be filled with anxiety and stress but is also a time for us as the church to demonstrate the peace, grace, and hope of Christ.

Finally, I would offer the words of the Psalmist,

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God.  May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10).

The psalmist confirmed obedience to God’s call but asked God to lead him in a way that his feet could be steady, and he would not fall.  This is great instruction as we plan to serve in times of crisis. As followers of Christ may we be those who demonstrate to a world shaken by this pandemic that our feet rest on the solid rock of Christ.

Creatively Meeting Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every community and every element of our society.  Businesses, schools, organizations and even parks, are closed if they don’t provide what is considered an essential service.  Most people are sheltered in place, while those that do get out are forced to practice social distancing. 

The pandemic has impacted our medical system to the point that the demand for medical supplies and personal protection equipment outweighs the supply.  However, after understanding how great the need was, many stepped up to creatively meet the demand.  Factories retooled assembly lines, university classrooms manufactured face shields, and individuals sewed masks.  It’s inspiring to see people get so creative in order to meet the need of others.

Years ago, from about AD 249-262, the Plague of Cyprian was a pandemic that spread throughout the Roman Empire.  It too, impacted every element of society and killed as many as 5,000 people per day in Rome.  During that time, the early church stepped up and effectively ministered when disease incapacitated a city.  So many people turned away from paganism because they saw how the church ministered to the poor and sick during that crisis! 

I believe the same could happen today if the world sees the church ministering during this crisis rather than only protecting itself. God is calling us to minister during this difficult time of crises so that people turn from lostness to Him.  Doing so, will require creativity on the part of the church, just as it did the factories and universities.  Let me encourage you to prayerfully consider how you will step up during this crisis and effectively meet needs while practicing social distancing and adhering to the guidelines given us by our elected officials. 

So how does the church serve as a witness for Christ and minister during these difficult days when there are so many restrictions needed to protect us, and others, from the virus?   Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Prepare and deliver meals for those that can’t get out.
  2. Deliver needed supplies to the front porch of the elderly and most vulnerable.
  3. Sew masks for frontline workers.
  4. Leave a simple card on front doors that says, “Hello! If you are self-isolating, let me know how I can help.” Include your name and contact information.
  5. Serve as the host for a blood drive as blood is in short supply.
  6. Encourage medical personnel on the front lines with meals, thank you cards and prayers.
  7. Provide childcare for hospital staff members and first responders since day cares are closed.
  8. Deliver meals prepared by the local school to children receiving lunches as transportation may be a need.
  9. Take baked goods to neighbors and ask them if there’s anything you can do for them.
  10. Create videos of hope and place them on social media as an encouragement to others. 
  11. Provide a sense of connection to those in quarantine. If video calling isn’t an option, consider standing outside their storm door on the phone so they can see, as well as hear you.
  12. Call a frontline worker and offer to pray for them.
  13. Serve grab-and-go meals for the homeless while teaching social distancing and sharing hygiene tips.
  14. Children can write Bible verses and encouraging messages with sidewalk chalk on driveways in their neighborhood.

What will you do to minister during COVID-19? The need for the church to step up and meet the need of the community has never been greater.  Seek the Lord about how you can creatively press into this situation in strategic ways for the sake of His Kingdom.