Coronavirus has accelerated change in the church world. Change is inevitable, but growth is optional. Let's remain on mission, but grow and adapt to the times.
Change is hard
John Maxwell writes: 'Just about everyone wants to grow better. But relatively few people actually dedicate themselves to the process. Why? Because growth requires change, and change is hard. But the truth is that without change, growth is impossible. Most people fight against change, especially when it affects them personally.' As novelist Leo Tolstoy said, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." The ironic thing is, change is inevitable. Everybody has to deal with it in his or her life. On the other hand, growth is optional. You can choose to grow or to fight it.
Changed by the coronavirus
Covid-19 has fundamentally changed our world, and it's changed 'church' world, too. The mission and vision hasn't changed, but how we accomplish it in 2020 forward has. And the speed by which it can happen changes, too. Disney+ got up to 60 million subscribers in the last nine months. It took Netflix eight years to get to that level! Someone said, 'Coronavirus has further accelerated change in the whole church world by five years in five months.' So this moment is leading us to movement.
What we need right now
We've been here before, you know - the Spanish Flu. Churches closed for one year during that time. Here is a fantastic article about that as well as the importance of 'lamenting' things as they change. Great read. And love the Martin Luther quote.
Friend - seems what we need right now is less outrage and more outreach. Whether online or on campus, let's stay on mission! Whether Jesus was on a dusty road, on a donkey, walking on the water, on a boat, or on the cross - He was still on mission. We should be, too. In bold and creative ways. The thing we want to be most contagious with right now is our faith and our Savior.
We want to be anchored to the rock but geared to the times. After 18 years as your pastor, I have learned that is one of the reasons you like this church so much! So adapting to change, pivoting quickly, and lamenting properly will be essential equipment for you in this historic year. As the rest of 2020 unfolds, remember the 9th Beatitude - 'Blessed are the flexible for they will not be bent out of shape!'
Charlie Howard, Food Pantry leader, is modeling this. He sent me an awesome email. Classic King Charles!
"I am loving the 'outside church.' As I was leaving the neighborhood on 'the way' yesterday, I stopped and said "hi" to a neighbor and told him where I was headed. We talked about the heat and differences in 'now' but he said "your church is trying!" Keep on trying church! That's what I love about our church. I just like the people watching and listening to a bit of the sermon. It's easier to stay awake outside. I pictured that yesterday must have been what it was like back in Jesus' time. People tending to their children and listening to the Master. It's a good thing, David!"
Humor helps Charlie and me cope during this Covid season. Might help you, too. Here is a video that several sent me. You'll especially appreciate it if you like the Hamilton musical!
Speaking of staying on mission, this coming Sunday is our first ever outdoor All-In. If you have never been baptized by immersion, please start praying now about going All-In and 'all under' this Sunday (click here for more info on baptism). Our goal is still to do 365 All-In baptisms this year. Each of those numbers represents a name and a story. Might you be one of them?! We are here to assist you in this simple, obvious, and powerful next step in your faith journey. For those of you who grew up on the Westside, it can be a little stressful, especially when it comes to explaining why you are being immersed to your family or friends. They may even think you are crazy or joining a cult! I made a list a few years ago with some helpful thoughts and things you can say to them:
- Your parents did a great job establishing a foundation in your spiritual life. You are simply building on that wonderful foundation. Your first baptism was wonderfully done by another on your behalf. This one is being wonderfully done by you, for you (and you'll remember it!). Your baptism by immersion is not an indictment against their religion or heritage, but a next step for you on your spiritual journey that God is prompting you to do. As a believing adult, you must do what God is leading you to do, just as they did years ago.
- Your decision is something you are doing because of what you now understand the Bible to say/direct. Every single baptism in the New Testament was by immersion. That's what the word baptism really means. Every single baptism in the New Testament was done by a believing adult who had an awareness of right/wrong and chose to do so themselves. You are just following the Bible.
- Any false guilt you may be feeling will go away with time.
- Always treat your family with respect, but be bold and follow through with this decision if this is what you feel God is leading you to do.
- Invite your family to attend a service here. They might have a different feeling for who we are after they experience a Sunday service.
- Just know there are tons of other adults at Whitewater who have also gone through this, who are here to support you and cheer you on. There will also be dozens of others this weekend who grew up just like you, who are taking these very courageous steps!
Friend - let this moment in history lead you to movement. In the water, in your home, and in your neighborhood. Because we're still on mission! That will never change.
Join us Sunday for Outdoor Worship at 10am (along with the All-In baptisms). Register here!
Or watch online at 10:15am.
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