Innovative Ministry
Church Canceled? 6 Ways To Respond – And 5 Ways Not To
The church is always at our best, not when things are going well, but when we respond in a Christ-like manner to a difficult circumstance.

Did you just find out that your home church won’t be holding public services this weekend?

If so, you’re not alone.

Your church leaders aren’t panicking. At this point, especially if your church is large, this is a responsible decision.

The current global health crisis is causing congregations all around the world to make the difficult decision to close their buildings this weekend – including the church I serve. And they may be closed for several weekends to come. (If your church is meeting, that does not make them irresponsible – especially if it’s a smaller congregation. That’s a choice each location needs to make for themselves.)

But if we don’t have a church to go to this weekend, what should we do?

Whether you’re on your own, or with your family, here are several ways you can participate in a faith-building worship experience this Sunday from the comfort of your own home.

1. Watch An Online Service

If your church offers this alternative, take advantage of it. In fact, there are a lot of churches that don’t normally offer an online experience who are doing it now.

If your church doesn’t have an online alternative, that’s okay. Find an online church experience that you can be blessed by until your church opens its doors again.

2. Listen To Worship Music

Whatever your preferred music style is, there’s an app for that.

It’s great to spend time listening and singing along to your favorite worship music.

From YouTube, to Spotify, to Pandora, to your phone playlist or even hauling out the old CDs, it’s great to spend time listening and singing along to your favorite worship music.

3. Prayer

As the church, we should always be praying for each other and for the world around us. Especially now.

Pray especially for the following:

  • The elderly and ill
  • Medical personnel
  • Emergency responders
  • Pastors and faith leaders
  • Political leaders
  • Those being financially impacted
  • and anyone else you know who is especially hit by the current crisis.

4. Online Devotionals

Many churches, including ours, are encouraging their members to follow along on a daily devotional from an online app like YouVersion, Bible Study Tools and more.

This allows church members to learn together, encourage each other and feel a sense of community until they can gather in the same room again.

5. Give

The financial needs of your church and other local charities do not decrease just because the doors are not open for public gatherings. In fact, for most of them, the financial needs will increase as we try to meet the needs of those who are hardest hit by the current difficulties.

Use your church’s online giving option, mail a check, or bring your gift to the church building during the week. They’d appreciate it, and they’ll use it well.

6. Meet A Need

In addition to giving financially to your home church, look for other ways to help people who need it the most.

Look for ways to help people who need it the most.

Delivering meals, caring for kids whose schools have closed, and running errands for those who are ill are just a few of the ways we can be a presence of hope instead of fear.

Caution: 5 Ways NOT To Respond

1. Don’t panic

The church, the community and the world have been through worse than this. If we stay calm, trust God and help each other, we’ll be okay. But if we panic, the result of that has the potential to be worse than the disease.

2. Don’t hoard

This is always the result of panic. And it always ends badly.

When we hoard, the resources don’t go to those who need it the most, but to those who have the physical and financial wherewithal to shop, pay and store it all.

When this happens, the people who need items the most (the sick, the elderly, the poor) have fewer resources because those who need it the least (the healthy, the young, the rich) are hoarding more than they can use.

If you’re able to hoard (even if you call it stocking up), you’re able to give. Turn that energy and those resources outward and bless your less-abled neighbors.

3. Don’t politicize

No one is behaving perfectly in this situation. Not those on your side of the political aisle or those on the other one.

Let’s work together for the betterment of everyone, no matter their political party.

4. Don’t spread falsehoods

The only thing that spreads faster than germs and viruses are lies.

Confirming the truth is always hard in a crisis. Don’t make it worse by passing anything along until you have fact-checked it from multiple reliable sources.

As a rule of thumb, the more spectacular the claim, the less likely it is to be true. And if it’s a meme, it’s a lie.

Better to say nothing than to pass along a lie.

5. Don’t scapegoat

We love to cast blame. Somehow we feel better if there’s a country, an ethnicity, a politician, an ideology, or even God himself to blame.

Right now is not the time for blame – and it’s never the time for scapegoating (which is casting undeserved blame). It’s the time for courage, wisdom, unity, and faith.

Finally: Be The Church

You know all the times you’ve heard someone say “we don’t go to church, we are the church?” I happen to believe it’s both, but now is our time to prove it.

Right now a lot of us can’t go to church but, more than ever, we can be the church.

The church is always at our best, not when things are going well, but when we respond in a Christ-like manner to a difficult circumstance.

That is our calling right now.

Let’s step up.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

March 13, 2020 at 11:00 PM

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