The Shift God Is Doing Through Covid-19

March 31, 2020

Whenever God does a deep work, He works through circumstances in order to deal with the depths of our hearts. We are reminded that God allows a “shaking” to make us more fruitful:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:1-2)

What is the shift that God is making?
What is God peeling away and nudging us to add to our church & ministries?
What is God shaping in our hearts as ministers & leaders?

Ironically, while this is a season of fast-paced actions to save businesses, redefine ministry and meet needs, it needs to also be a season of Sabbath rest to discern the shift that God wants to make in us.
God wants to bring us to His “spacious place” for us to shape us as He did for David,

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalms 18:19)

Make no mistake, this “spacious place” was not a time of peace and tranquility for David. Rather, as the preceding verses qualified, it was in the midst of much haste, action and challenges,

[God] rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. (Psalms 18:17-18)

As I embark on this semi-Sabbatical – cum- fast-paced problem-solving journey, 3 aspects of what God may want to shift come to mind:

1. God is shifting us to become a church that values engagement despite fear of contagion.

How much do we value our community and relationships to be willing to learn new tools to engage and encourage? In my work with churches, most churches have closed onsite meetings and trainings. In encouraging churches to move Cell Groups online, there is genuine concern that some simply will not move. They are used to interacting a certain way and would rather adhere to old ways and not enter the new. Leaders are concerned that not all members may be forthcoming to help these members adjust to changes.

God is nudging the church to see engagement, encouragement and prayer to be so critical to the spiritual life that we would change our mindsets to step into new arenas, and be willing to help one another adjust, in order to sustain momentum of engagement.

2. God is shifting us to become a church that reaches out to the needy despite constrains.

For so many church members, the business-challenges through Covid-19 and the fear of contagion has so burdened us that we have little space to think of others. Yet, there are many who are truly in need.

Never has there been such a time like this where the average Singaporean faces job-loss, work uncertainty, fear of contagion and loss of freedom all in one-sitting. More than ever, they are looking for answers and hope. The very strategies for online engagement may expedite ways of reaching out and engaging those who are pre-believing around us! May God give us the creativity to find windows of opportunities to connect and be sensitive to the needs around us.

3. God is shifting us to become a church that learns foresight to be ahead of the curve instead of behind.

If we follow the nudges God gives us during this Covid-19, something will happen within us–we will be changed.

Businesses are taking the work online, companies are having “continuity plans”, collaboration with clients and partners are engaged via the internet & diverse tools. Yet churches are only beginning to delve into these avenues.

In the last 2 months, more churches have gone “live-stream” than ever before. It is only a matter of time Cell Groups in many churches will leverage online means of shepherding & pastoral care. However, we should not be copying these methods simply because of need and constraints. We should be thinking on their implications and potential for ministry.

After the Covid-19, will we simply forget all this & return to ministry like before?
Or will this “new normal” be a supplement to the ways of the past?
Can these newly learnt platforms be a means to reach beyond our church to missions-partners & even ministry overseas?

  • Is it possible that God is nudging churches all over to discover new ways & paradigms to share God’s word & engage communities?
  • Is it possible that God is shaping churches with skills & willingness of mindset-change to be an influence in an online world?
  • Is it possible God wants to, after Covid-19, extend the reach of every church beyond her community & even beyond her borders?

If we follow the nudges God gives us during this Covid-19, something will happen within us–we will be changed. It is out of this change within, that we can lead differently. If we don’t, we may become weaker, less-relevant & unable to influence in a new world.

Will the next 6-9 months be God’s “spacious place” for you–a place of work yet reflection & rediscovery of God’s new purposes and plans?

David’s pursuit by his enemies, and finding that “spacious place” in God, renewed and strengthened him. He wrote,

You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop ;
with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless…
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great. (Psalms 18:28-30, 33-35)

Through this Covid-19, things that happen are not by chance.

God is making a shift in you! He is perfect in all of His ways, His word is flawless!

Through this season, He desires to train your hand for battle, to stoop down to you to make you great!

So take heart, let this season may it be a Sabbath-Shift for your heart as well as your ministry!

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

ChurchLife Resources provides consultation and coaching pertaining to ministry issues pertaining to health and growth of the church. Write to [email protected] for a complimentary consultation.

Photo by  Bruno Cervera on Unsplash

1 Examples of using online tools to serve: https://homeless.sg:8443/home-away-from-home, https://streamsoflife.thunderquote.com/homeless-hearts-love-our-malaysian-neighbours/
2 Thinking theologically through the changes: https://medium.com/@jonas.kurlberg/reflecting-theologically-on-online-streaming-services-f6c3dd975043

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