I’ve been pondering this question for the past couple weeks. What would the Lord have us do as His church during this COVID-19 pandemic? I’m not now primarily talking about the church as an institution, but about you and me, the church as a body of believers.
I appreciated Governor Burgum’s recognition of the role of the faith community last week. He acknowledged that we are a vital part of providing hope and support to North Dakotans during this difficult time. However, it’s very likely that things are going to get worse in our state before getting better, so what is our response?
Here are some of the responsibilities I believe the church has when it comes to this pandemic.
- Admit the pandemic exists. Some people have held that COVID-19 is not as bad as the annual flu, that it can opportunistically be used by those in power to exert more control over citizens and curtail liberties, or that it is likely being overstated by the media. While these might be true to a greater or lesser extent, I’m simply asking that the church admit COVID-19 exists, that it represents a documented health risk, and that it is very virulent.
- Protect the body of Christ. This flows logically from the first point, above. This means, at a minimum, acting responsibly. Being responsible for most congregations has meant holding services online, which is a good first start. On the flip side, an irresponsible reaction is saying that we Christians are somehow immune from COVID-19 if we have enough faith, as some churches have said. Do you wait for God to heal your nearsightedness, or do you go get glasses?
- Protect and help those outside the church. We are called to be the salt and light of the world. Now is the perfect time to do this. If a hurting world sees Christians leading the way with compassion and Christ’s love, we will make an indelible mark for years to come. If you can, please help our health care providers in particular, as they are on the front lines of this war. Also, government leaders shoulder a huge amount of responsibility, and many others have become unemployed because of this crisis. Let’s not forget them.
- The power of prayer is incredible and something I firmly believe we as Christians greatly undervalue. Pray for 1) those suffering from the sickness; 2) protection of those still not infected; and 3) those engaged in this battle against the coronavirus. If all North Dakotans were to pray each day for these three things, I can guarantee you that we would all see amazing things happen. This prayer will literally take less than a minute to pray each day.
As the church, we represent the bride of Christ and are His hands and feet in a hurting world. Let’s take that mantle seriously and show the world, and particularly our state, that Christians are different. We don’t just attend services on Sunday and try to deal honestly with our neighbors and business associates. As C.S. Lewis put it, “We must show our Christian colors if we are to be true to Jesus Christ.”
When the world seems to be crumbling around us, let’s point to the stable rock on whom our faith rests – our Savior. People see the Savior through us, so let’s make sure that happens during this crisis!
President and Executive Director
Church Leaders: If you are looking for resources on how to minister during this time of pandemic, one of our allied policy organizations has created an excellent website with resources just for you. www.COVIDChurchAid.org