Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s been talked about as if it is the greatest pandemic in history. And it’s been shrugged off as nothing more than a minimally present virus that will be no concern in a couple months. No matter your understanding of the COVID-19 narrative, there’s no doubt that people in your ministry are asking questions of what you will do when this dreaded virus hits your campus, church, or community.
Here are four things to keep in mind as you navigate the circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
1. Protect peace of mind.
According to a recent statement from the World Health Organization (WHO), “We are not at the mercy of this virus.” According to many medical experts and organizations, though there is a real threat surrounding coronavirus, the overall threat is extremely low. This perspective ought to encourage us to maintain peace of mind through this season. WHO has also stated, among some less theologically rich statements, “Let hope be the antidote of fear.” This ought to be the reality for those of us who have hope in the One who spoke creation into existence, knit every person together in their mother’s womb, and is before all things and in whom all things hold together.
Peace of mind ought to be informed, but confident. Aware, but hopeful. Knowledgeable, but faithful. Ultimately, peace of mind will come from an assurance in Christ and His power, authority, sovereignty, and grace. We, of all people, ought to be people of hope during this season of fear. And we ought to be helping those in our ministries be hopeful as well.
2. Practice good citizenship.
Romans 13:1 (CSB) reads, “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” This season is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our respect and submission to governing authorities. The implications of COVID-19 likely don’t mean we can’t share the gospel or will be jailed for baptizing, so let us live with civility in a time of great volatility.
It may be a fantastic season to teach some of those we minister to about the classic stewardship principle of good hygiene. We can inform and encourage guidelines and recommendations being made by government agencies. We can honor the agencies and authorities (CDC, WHO, state and local departments of health) without creating hysteria or being ignorant of the genuine fear and legitimate precautionary recommendations. And when those in our ministry or community are struck by COVID-19, or even impacted by the loss of a loved one from this virus, we must be God-honoring citizens. Love them well. Care for them faithfully. And serve them in their time of need. We must declare and demonstrate the importance of being good citizens.
3. Pull information from good sources.
I have watched or read some version of the news nearly every day of my adult life. It’s part of my daily rhythm to explore local, national, and world news. I love learning what is happening around me, whether it seems to have a direct impact on me and my family or not. However, I also recognize that I have to run everything I read through a grid of assessment as to appropriately understand who is writing it, what they are saying, why they are saying this the particular way they are saying it, and what does the Bible have to say about this.
During this season, it is incredibly important that we do this with all that we read. I believe one of the easiest ways to have clear answers to those questions is to gather information from organizations and sources who represent people closest to the official decisions being made—groups like CDC, WHO, and state and local departments of health. And as we look to these reputable sources for information, be sure that we are fighting the temptation to spread rumors or contribute to the dissemination of false information.
4. Push ahead.
Ministry must not stop. If temptation and torture didn’t keep Christ off the cross, coronavirus shouldn’t keep us from ministry. We must press on. We must continue to faithfully proclaim the gospel for the good of God’s people and growth of God’s Kingdom. But we must also not be naive. Ministry may have to change, even if just for a season.
People may stop participating in ministry events and gatherings. People may be crippled by anxiety and fear. People may look at you and those in your ministry with great distrust. However, we must remain faithful in our ministry. Fortunately, God has placed us in a time and space with great tools to minister, even from a distance. Technology, medicine, and transportation advancements make ministry in the age of coronavirus not just possible, but potentially impactful. Press on. Push ahead. The gospel is worth it, and your campus, church, community, and world need it.
COVID-19 is not reason for us to become hysterical or panic. However, this disruptive virus is also not something we should dismiss as unimportant. We ought to remain faithful to the Lord, wisely informed, and discerning in both conversation and practice. In doing so, we’ll hopefully put minds at ease, minister effectively, honor the authorities. And do not forget, this cultural moment has potential for significant ministry impact. Let’s not miss this opportunity.
Steven Ackley, his wife Emily, and their four kids live in Murfreesboro, TN, where Steven serves as the NextGen and College Pastor at LifePoint Church. Steven holds a D.Min. and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can connect with him on Twitter.