A church cannot go through an extended period of ministry interruption and be the same on the other side. Nor should it be. God wants our troubles to change us. According to Romans 5:3-4, difficulties produce perseverance, which strengthens our character. That’s change. But such positive outcomes only happen when our trials are honestly evaluated and the lessons properly applied. We are still evaluating the last 15 months. We have not discovered all the lessons yet. But here is one that I believe we need to emphasize.
We must carve out time for kingdom pursuits. When everything locked down in March 2020, the church was not unaffected. Bible classes were suspended. Fellowship opportunities were canceled. For a brief period, we didn’t even assemble in our usual location for worship. When did return to meeting in person in June 2020, we met only for a morning worship assembly on Sundays. We added a Wednesday worship period later, then eventually Sunday morning Bible classes. Other activities are coming back now, too.
What happened when we suspended all those spiritual pursuits? We filled that time with other things. I suspect that some filled that time with different spiritual pursuits, while others filled it with more mundane activities. As we look to the future, many of us may need to drop some things of lesser importance to reengage with things of greater importance. As William Longstaff wrote, and as we often sing,
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).