How the Church can shine during COVID-19

Last Sunday in New Zealand, we set a record for the lowest church attendance in living memory. Next Sunday will smash that record because we have just begun a four week lockdown. No one is going anywhere.

In an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19, many governments are banning public gatherings. Churches, along with schools, restaurants, shops, and cinemas, are closing and no one knows when they will reopen.

What should we do? How should we adjust?

My strong conviction is that we are on the threshold of an unprecedented opportunity. As the world slips into the Valley of Shadow, the church has a chance to shine brighter than ever. People are hungry for hope. Their distractions have been taken away, and they want to hear good news.

This is the church’s time to step up and display the manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:10). Here are three needs and three corresponding opportunities that weren’t so keenly felt a month ago:

1. People are scared

We need peace. Fear and anxiety are assailing us from all quarters. Every day, the news is bleak and the numbers are bad. The stress we are facing is greater than our ability to face it. What can we do?

The church has a powerful opportunity to demonstrate an alternative way to live, one based on faith rather than fear. We can show people how to find supernatural peace in the Prince of Peace. We can teach them how to fortify their minds in his Word. We can show them how to pray and cast their anxieties on the One who cares.

It is often said, “People are too busy for God.” Guess what. Suddenly we’re not so busy. Unless you’re a healthcare worker or an essential services provider, you probably have more time than ever. Redeem the time. Draw aside and connect with God. Help others to do the same.

2. People are isolated

We need connection. Locked away in our homes, away from schools and workplaces, our sense of isolation and loneliness is greater than ever. We need to reach out (without touching), and connect (without infecting).

Often we wear masks pretending all is well. Guess what. All is not well. But that’s okay, because Jesus is here. When we are anxious and stressed, he welcomes us with comforting arms.

Sadly, the church has a reputation of mask-wearing superficiality. We have an opportunity to put an end to pretending and proclaim the good news of God’s radical acceptance. “You’re not okay, I’m not okay, and that’s okay because Jesus is with us. Come as you are to the throne of grace in your hour of need.”

3. People are lost

We need saving. Thank God for good government and wise leaders. But when your ship is sinking you need a greater Help than that. Life is more than lockdowns and hiding inside. When you’re in isolation, free from your usual distractions, you have time to think. Why am I here? Where am I going?

The church has a golden opportunity to highlight the things that matter. True, Christians get distracted just like anyone. We wander and forget our First Love. But when the crisis comes, we know which direction to run.

And how are we going to tap into these opportunities? Not with formal programs and church committees, but with the sort of unbridled creativity and good humor that is springing up all over the world. This may not be the time to stage large rallies in rented tents. Nor is it the time to go door-knocking (unless you’re checking on your neighbors; definitely do that).

This is the time to experiment, engage, and – dare I say – enjoy the moment. Or at least live in it, fully human, free from fear. Yes, storms are frightening. But those who have Jesus in their boat have nothing to fear.

COVID-19 is an unprecedented storm, but we have unprecedented tools for connecting with others. We have social media and Facetime and Hangouts and Livestreaming and Instagram and Tik Tok. We have phones, letters, texting and messaging. And we have prayer! Grab your weapon of choice and go fight for someone. Strengthen those who are weak-kneed. Lift up those who are down. Lay proverbial hands on the sick and heal them.

Best of all, we have the Holy Spirit. Why not ask him right now for a word of encouragement for someone and then deliver his message?

Church attendance may be down for a season, but the Church has not quit the battlefield. Not by a long shot. By the grace of God we will win this war and lead many to freedom. I fully expect the Church family to grow as a result of this present crisis.

We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. (Psalm 20:5)

If this post has inspired you, go, set up your banner. If you have sensed the creative nudging of the Spirit, run with what he gives you. Tell us what you plan to do in the comments below. And if you see other opportunities for the church at this time, let us know about those too.

Paul’s latest book, The Chocolate Gospel is now available as an ebook and on the Kindle store!

27 Comments on How the Church can shine during COVID-19

  1. Great post, Paul! I just wrote a very similar blog post (and even have almost the same picture with the lighthouse/”beacon of hope”!). This perspective is so needed right now all throughout the world. God bless you.

  2. Our elder adult son is struggling with the anxiety the covid 19 situation is producing. I work in a care home and return next week after some leave. This compounds his state of mind. I recall a recent prayer that both our adult sons have a closer walk with Christ. If the Lord wills our sons along with many more may seek and find that God is indeed Good and an Ever Present Help. Jehovah jireh. Thank you Paul for a lovely post today. God bless you and keep you all.

    • Sorry to hear that Ann about your son. Christ has got him. You continue to encourage him in the Lord and let him know over and over and over that no weapon formed against him shall prosper and God will raise his people up and God will also use us to help the world. It is not easy for the young as they don’t like their liberty taken, none of us do really, but your grace and love will get him through; through Christ.

      • Thank you! In fear we have the opportunity to show Jesus who has won fear.
        In Italy it is 1 month that the churches are closed but we are using applications such as zoom to continue being together, pray, take bread and wine and invite other people to our meetings

      • Fifi thank you and God bless you too.

  3. Ambangira Edson // March 25, 2020 at 4:24 pm // Reply

    Thanks Paul. This is the reality

  4. We need the true peace that only comes from Jesus as a gift. He said, “My peace I give to you”. When those who do not believe see that peace, they will want it.

  5. Brandon Petrowski // March 25, 2020 at 5:36 pm // Reply

    Perfectly well said.

  6. Thanks Paul great encouragement keeping the focus on Jesus the author & perfected our faith!

  7. Stella Steven // March 25, 2020 at 7:30 pm // Reply

    Hi Ps Paul thank you for continuing to encourage the Body of Christ even at a time like this. Our Lord has overcome Covid 2000 years ago at Calvary. We continue to remain in faith in His finished work. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Stay safe and God bless you and your wonderful Ministry.

  8. We need to be careful at this time how we treat others. People are afraid to cough, sneeze as others run scared and we need to stop panic buying and we should protect our little children as they too are afraid, Many are afraid but we are Natural and supernatural; so for all believers, we have far more of an advantage. Try not to watch the news all the time. We may need to look out for signs but we don’t need to know all the details as a lot of it as far as I am concerned is pure propaganda. There are more sinister motives for self-isolating and putting up with social distancing. Psalms 91 is good to read and to understand. Please lift up your voice for the elderly people and terminally ill people and disabled too. The gov’s real agenda for them is not good at all. Encourage your children in the Lord and try and be positive and happy around them with a great understanding of them. This way of life goes against Christ’s way of life but, all things work together for good so expect the good. By the grace of God, we walk in faith and pray for our nation.

  9. Sam Griffith // March 26, 2020 at 1:29 am // Reply

    Love it! We’re using Hangouts and Zoom to connect with people digitally and leaving notes on our neighbor’s doors with our email/phone information for them to let us know if they need anything at all. I love that Jesus stirred His church to dramatically increase our digital presence all over the world. It’s as if He was preparing us for this very situation.

  10. Linda Essaff // March 26, 2020 at 5:34 am // Reply

    Definitely this is a time God is going to bring great victory for HIs people and draw many He loves in the world to Himself . My husband and I have been praying for others more than ever and sensing the presence of God in our midst. Jesus is never taken by surprise and He knows how to use this for good in our lives and the lives of our prodigals. We are also participating in conference call prayers with other believers. We actually feel more connected with others than before this happened.

  11. Beautiful sir, thanks very much. From Nigeria, with love…

  12. Michelle Cormier // March 26, 2020 at 11:05 am // Reply

    Continuing praise and prayers with words of light and life! Jesus is Lord of ALL !!!

  13. Bishop samuel // March 26, 2020 at 1:22 pm // Reply


  14. Regina Roundtree // March 27, 2020 at 4:21 am // Reply

    Paul I like how you formatted this information for ease of consumption.
    Scared/Peace Isolated/Connection Lost/Saving
    Thank you and blessings to all!

  15. Paul, May I share your relevant post (How the Church Can Shine during COVID19) with several other Florida pastors? Mike

  16. I would add:

    4. People are disappointed.

    They trusted in government and medicine to keep them safe and feel like these institutions have failed them. This explains why fear is so rampant. Christians can relate to this because we have experienced the ultimate disappointment. We have been disappointed in ourselves. Fortunately, God lives at the end of our ropes. We need to tell people that.

    I also think we need to stand against the error that God created COVID-19 because, well, because God is in charge of everything. This foolish notion is not Scriptural and keeps people from turning to Him in times of trouble.

  17. katie watt // March 30, 2020 at 3:35 am // Reply

    Christ centered yoga classes online for free ❤

  18. Barbara Hale // March 30, 2020 at 8:22 am // Reply

    There are churches that are connecting through conference call.It was great this morning.

    • As I scanned my Facebook feed on Sunday, I saw pastor after pastor preaching online. There have always been a few; now there are many. It was really something to see.

  19. Jenny Beauchamp // March 31, 2020 at 6:32 am // Reply

    I know everyone is praying and yet the Lord has put it on my heart to schedule a time of prayer, as we are the Body of Christ. Wednesday evening (8:00-9:00 p.m., no matter your time zone).I’ve been praying the Healing Hands of Jesus stretch out to this world and show His Love through miracle healings!  Please pass this on to as many Christians you know.Blessings in Christ Jesus!

  20. Jenny Beauchamp // April 6, 2020 at 6:28 am // Reply

    Saints, Set your alarm…Monday night 8:00 p.m., let’s raise a hallelujah! Let the Body of Christ give thanks to God for His only begotten Son and give
    thanks for what He has done and Who He is– in the Believer, in His Body of Believers (here and in heaven). Jesus is the Head and we are the Body reconciled to God! This is not a time of praising Him, as a work, to get God to do anything. All that He has done is finished and all that we need is in Him, in us, in God! We are one because of Jesus Christ, so let’s be reminded and remind one another, as we thank Him! Raise a Hallelujah! Please pass it on and here’s a song I think you will enjoy! Blessings!

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