A RENEWED DISCIPLESHIP CHALLENGE IN A POST-PANDEMIC NEW NORMAL

20 July 2022

After all that has happened: Pandemic, wars, economic recessions, we are finally opening up…but to a different world—a post-pandemic New Normal. What lessons have we learnt as a church through these times? How can we build a more robust ministry that can weather such ups and downs if they come again?

Perhaps one thing we need to do is to redefine what the disciple looks like in this New Normal. The very traits and behaviour we aspired to pre-Pandemic may not be as poignant nor needed for overcoming discipleship in the New Normal. We will be look at just that in our coming Leaders’ Learning Lab.

But more deeply, we must hear the heart of Jesus’ promise to us. There many poignant times Jesus described His heart,

  • God so loved the world, He gave His only Son (John 3:16)
  • love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34)
  • all of them you have given me be one… (John 17:21)

But none as critical as the one where He gave His biggest promise to us…

Matthew 28:18-20:

[18] Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

This verse was given in final authority after the finished work of Christ, this was given as a Discipleship Mandate to the gathering of God’s people—the church!

Though many insights may be gleaned from this command, I love the last assurance Jesus gave: 

“God watches over us this year, next year, the year after. He watches over us during the Pandemic’s lost 2 years, the post-Pandemic, the endemic, and even if new upheavals come, more lockdowns or another Virus X.”

I am with you…

Jesus promises His presence with us. As the cloud that shaded the people by day and the fire that guided the people by night, God’s presence though His Holy Spirit is with us through the thick and thin: the lockdowns, the isolation, the re-opening, the economic upheaval, the uncertainties.

Always…

He is with us in the day, in the afternoon, in the night. He watches over our coming & going, our rest and sleep. Whether our main activity is work, family time, personal time, God’s presence is with us and covers us. He is with us 24/7!

To the very end of the age…

God watches over us this year, next year, the year after. He watches over us during the Pandemic’s lost 2 years, the post-Pandemic, the endemic, and even if new upheavals come, more lockdowns or another Virus X, God watches us through the seasons and beyond, to the very end of the age.

However, the most poignant word for me in this assurance is the word,

Surely…

In the biblical Greek this is an emphasis, it’s like a “listen to this part carefully” or “this part is important to me”. This marker tells us that the assurance that follow is important for close attention. One could say, the first part of the verses before the marker is an instruction, while the second part of the verses after the marker is something on God’s heart.

The call to make disciples is on God’s mind—the strategic mission mandated, but the assurance of His presence is on God’s heart for us!

“The call to make disciples is on God’s mind—the strategic mission mandated, but the assurance of His presence is on God’s heart for us!”

As things open—albeit with some uncertainties or more Covid-19 waves—and church activities get back onsite, it is a new normal: new expectations, new habits, new uncertainties.

Yet the discipleship mandate remains consistent:

  • go make disciples amidst where services and onsite CGs may be uncertain…
  • go make disciples amidst where some are reluctant to go onsite, and some prefer online/hybrid engagements…
  • go make disciples amidst where large number connected with church online & would be unlikely to come onsite…
  • go make disciples amidst where no church model has yet been tried & tested to be vibrant yet…
  • go makes disciples in this New Normal…

But the Holy Spirit is with us! He will empower & guide us 24/7 & through the seasons as we diligently play our part. Let’s lead our churches into a new and refreshed discipleship mandate in the new season!

Go and make disciples of all nations…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Rev. Dr. Philip Huan is the Principal Consultant at ChurchLife Resources, and is passionate about helping churches and leaders become strong and healthy!

ABOUT LEADERS’ LEARNING-LAB (L3)

Leaders’ Learning-Lab (L3) is hosted by ChurchLife Resources’ Rev. Dr Philip Huan & his team to sharpen your leadership aptitude as a pastoral / lay leader with a series of quarterly online learning sessions covering topics such as:

  • Understanding Church Health Pillars, Platforms & Programs
  • Sustaining Evangelism Momentum in Church
  • Sharpening the Discipleship Framework of your Church
  • Building Vibrant Small Groups, & others...

The 2-hour zooms sessions include video-learning, sharing of diagnostic frameworks, and breakouts labs to apply principles to your own church/ministry situation.

You can attend as a group of pastors / staff / elders / leaders to grow together for maximum benefit. Individual pastors may make this your continuing development journey.

Customize your learning-lab through 3 options:

i. Awareness, Understanding & Reflection (self-learning lab)

ii. Spar & listen with pastoral leaders in similar situations (peer-learning lab)*

iii. Application to your local church ministry scenario (application-learning lab)

*subject to sufficient participants of similar ministry-stage

Visit www.churchlife-resources.org/leaders-learning-lab/ to find out more!
Any queries, email us at [email protected]

Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash

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