Recently I wrote an article for Christian Standard Magazine about how we (MPCC) are expanding our ministry to reach underserved people and communities through our IMPACT Ministries. In the article, I talked about attending a Mega-Church Pastors Conference several years ago and hearing Ben Merold, a preacher that I respect deeply say, “Sometimes our opportunities become our vision.” That statement stayed with me and is a big reason why we have the IMPACT Center here on our Greenwood Campus. I also wrote about the day I was in the IMPACT Center and had the thought: There’s no set model of what a church looks like today. That led to the question, “How can we take what we’re doing on IMPACT Thursday/Saturday to other communities in the Greater Indianapolis area?” Fast-forward, and today we have three satellite campuses called IMPACT Old Southside, IMPACT Fairfax and IMPACT Bethany. The uniqueness of each campus emphasizes the truth that there’s no set model of what a church looks like today.
I just finished shooting a welcome video for this weekend’s online service, which is all we’re able to offer during this unprecedented time of social distancing as we try and stop the spread of the Coronavirus. And while I know this is a time of anxiety and fear for many, I’m thankful that we can continue to be a church that worships together even if it’s in a digital format. I don’t have an exact number of how many people joined us for worship online last week, but when I looked at the number of devices that were logged into the service and the number of views on Facebook, I was a little overwhelmed. Honestly, it was probably the largest “attendance” that we’ve had in a while. It didn’t “look like” a normal weekend, but we continued to be a church committed to coming together for worship.
Now that we know we can continue to worship, let’s remember that there’s much more to being the church than just the weekend experience. Let’s continue to practice the many “one another’s” of the New Testament within our church family as well as with everyone we encounter. Let’s love one another, encourage one another, care for one another, serve one another, pray for one another, etc., every chance we get. There’s no question that everything happening around us is creating new opportunities for spiritual conversations with people…with your one life. Anxiety and fear are everywhere in this time of unknown, and we, as the church, have the opportunity to model and speak words of faith. 1 Peter 3:15 says, But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… (NIV) This can be as simple as saying something like, “As a Christian, I put my faith and my trust in God and the truth of His Word. In the Bible we can find the words “do not be afraid” or “fear not” 365 times. Isn’t that amazing? God gives us a Bible verse that says, “do not be afraid” for every single day of the year.” Many people who aren’t Christians and never go to church are familiar with Psalm 23 (it’s probably the most common passage of Scripture on a Funeral Program). Psalm 23:4 says, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (NIV) The bottom line is, you don’t have to be a theologian to be able to tell someone why you choose faith over fear in difficult times. In fact, the best thing you can do is tell someone your personal story of how you came to put your faith and trust in Christ and how, because of that, you know that whatever the future holds, you’re not afraid.
Here’s the bottom line: No matter what happens, we will never stop being the church because the message of the church is the hope of the world. Let’s continue to worship together, let’s continue to love and care for one another and let’s continue to carry a message of hope.