ChurchNext IV: Overcoming the Shock of a Changed World

Being Spirit-led can help us overcome the extreme changes of COVID-19

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Our world has changed. The Church Next series is a collection of conversations with pastors and prophets from around the world, to canvass thoughts surrounding the unique events that the last year has presented us. We seek to realize the effects and opportunities being presented to the Church.

This is the last instalment in the series of conversations.

How big of a shock was COVID-19 to your family, ministry, church?

Vincent Lun (Senior Pastor, Kingdom Community Church, Singapore): It was a major disruption.  Everything was shut down except for essentials, before the restrictions were lifted gradually.  Family-life wise, we adjusted quickly and very well because we are a close-knit family and have a large enough apartment that is very near to amenities like supermarkets.

When it came to church ministry, we had to learn to hold Sunday services and big group gatherings online, meet on Zoom and telecommute.  We had to upgrade our tools at home very quickly.  It was very challenging initially as church life is highly relationally and all in-person interactions had to stop abruptly.

Benny Ho (Senior Pastor, Faith Community Church, Perth, Australia): It has not been too huge, partly because we did not anticipate it to be so bad at the start.  We were thinking of it more like SARS, which lasted for a couple of months.  I think we may have felt it even more if we knew that it would last for so long.  Because we were expecting a short run, we just took it as a matter of fact, made the short-term adjustment quickly and waited for it to ease off.  But it turned out to be rather long drawn.

The family really did not mind it too much, because I get to be home a lot more with all international travels curtailed.  So, it has been good for the family.

My personal itinerant ministry was taken increasingly online, so that part of ministry can carry on through a different platform.  The part that really became more intense and regular was the mentoring aspect, because now I am more available both to those I mentor as well as to meet my mentors.  We are now able to make plans to meet very regularly because we are all not travelling round the world.

“Up to this point, the shock effects are manageable” -Benny Ho

I have also gone online a lot more to do teaching and equipping webinars and this has increased our reach globally as a church.  By and large, the effect of Covid-19 upon my family, church and ministry has been more positive than negative.

Having said that, I am not sure if the economic impact upon the church has taken its full effect. We would know more when all the government support is withdrawn within the next few months.  At that time, we will be able to better assess the impact of that upon our family, church and ministry.

Spiritually, the impact of Covid-19 has yet to play itself out fully because it is only when all restrictions are lifted that we will know if all our members are willing to return back to church.  In summary, I would say that up to this point, the shock effects are manageable, pending any further developments over the next few months.

Katia Adams (Senior Pastor and Founder, The Table Boston, USA): Like everyone else, it has impacted everything, including emotional health, physical health, and finances for our personal life and ministry. Everything’s up for grabs.

A good thing it’s done is give us a rock-solid stability in the goodness of God. He’s not only cared for us and provided for us, but He has fortified us. We’re a family on a mission – we have two toddlers in tow and are planting a church in this season. It has been crazy.

All of those things in a normal season would add to the wear and tear of life, so no doubt when it’s happening in such an unusual time there are things we need to constantly process. Yet once the initial shock was over, what we’ve found is the goodness of God.

Julian Adams (Senior Pastor and Founder, The Table Boston, USA): As a prophetic ministry, it would be wonderful to be able to say, “We saw it coming.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case. We didn’t know all of the details of what this year would bring. What we can see, though, is that God spoke in advance of the needs that this season would bring, without us necessarily understanding the depth of what He was saying to us.

Livestream of The Table Boston service, USA, 2020

For example, before COVID-19 hit, we consistently had this feeling that we needed to go online quicker, and we needed to get some of our content out online. To be honest, we stalled on it a little bit. And once the pandemic happened, we realized that this is why God was pressing us to get an online presence. That way, our message can still get out

Katia Adams: I think all of that is to say – of course, it was a shock. Yet, it’s beautiful as a believer to be able to see the fingerprints of God and the hints that He gives you. Prior to events happening, even if you might not understand them fully, you can look back and see that God was speaking. He was leading.

“All hope is not lost. Our God is good.” -Katia Adams

The things He spoke to us now make sense in light of the events that have happened. That’s exactly how it worked in the ministry of Jesus: in light of the prophecies that went before, people saw the hints, they saw the pictures, and then they saw the full picture in Christ. We’re living in that tension of knowing in part and seeing in part.

Would you say you or your church have taken any faith-filled risks during this period? If so, what were they?

Vincent Lun: We took a collection for ministry to vulnerable children and we are currently having a second collection for them.  At a time when many people are understandably worried about their finances, we decided to ask our people to give to those who are far more needy than us.

But I won’t call it a ‘faith-filled risk’ as the amount is not really big.  Nonetheless, it is a needful reminder for us to see beyond our own immediate needs.

Benny Ho: One of the results of this season was our intentional drive to decentralize.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were not able to accommodate everyone in our main building.  As such, we took the opportunity to launch a new campus in another part of the city.  We positioned it as a gathering place to accommodate more people to gather, but used it to launch the new campus.  Now, we have a new campus on the other side of town that can create a new catchment area for new people.

The other outreach effort was Alpha Online.  This has resulted in new people being saved and touched by the Holy Spirit.

During this season when we are not able to go overseas for global missions, we turn our attention to local missions within our city and our neighborhood.  This has resulted in more local projects to reach out to people around us, like our neighbors and people on our own streets.  This has resulted in more projects starting to reach local people within our city.  This is another good outcome of the pandemic.

Many believers are feeling hopeless in this time. What would your message be to them?

Katia Adams: My parting words would be that God is on the throne, as He always has been. And He always will be. As His people, we have the invitation, both in seasons of plenty and seasons of challenge, to fix our eyes on him and recognize that He has the solutions in the good and the bad. Let’s have a real sense of faith and courage and not be discouraged in this season.

All hope is not lost. Our God is good. He will have his way in the nations and you and I get to partner with him to see His kingdom come.

Nothing has changed in our mission, even amidst the challenges of COVID-19.

This is the fourth part of our conversation in this Church Next series. You can read our previous conversations at the links below:

Church Next I: What Shifts Are Necessary in the Church?

Church Next II: Will the Church Look the Same after COVID-19?

Church Next III: The Need for Real Community in an Online World