The answer is we don’t know, and there is a lot that we do not know. We do not know the size of the church. We speak of attendance in terms of B.C. (Before COVID). We are trying to figure out who will come back and who will not. We don’t even know what church will look like in 2023. The huge growth in online services during the pandemic has made it almost impossible to figure out what has been happening.
Have you heard that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior? It is “sometimes” true. Some have predicted this as the beginning of the end of the large church. Maybe, or maybe not. History teaches us that Christians have survived after many rough times and pandemics. COVID-19 is not the first pandemic in the church’s history, nor is it by any means the worst pandemic the church has faced. The church survived and thrived after the Black Plague and survived and thrived after the Spanish Flu. The church has survived many tragic times of persecution. The church may not only survive COVID, but we may surprise the world and thrive after COVID-19. What will surviving and thriving looks like for the post-pandemic church? Not sure.
We know that if the church doesn’t wake up to the mission of serving and sharing the message of Jesus and salvation, the church will shrink. The historical example and evidence of this are what has happened in Europe, and today many amazing cathedrals are empty. How can we prevent this from happening?
#1. The church must become a transformational family rather than a transactional institution. Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
We were created to enjoy a personal relationship with God and to manage all of God’s creation! This makes us special! We must resist being a service organization rather than an amazing family of believers, and we need to regain our transformational ministry and mission.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
#2. We need to understand what it means to be a church family. We must become transformational, focusing on relational interactions. Hebrews 3:6 says, “But Christ was faithful as a Son in the household of His own Father, and we are members of this household (family) if we hold on to the end.” God expects us to be a member or part of a church family. A Believer in Jesus without a church family is a contradiction. Ephesians 2:19, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
#3. We must shift our thinking from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. Acts 1:8 says, “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you’ll receive power, and you’ll tell people about Me everywhere.”
#4. We must shift our thinking from local orientation to global orientation. Psalm 2:8, “If you ask Me, I will give you the nations. All the people on earth will be yours.”
#5. We must shift our thinking from temporary values to eternal values. Luke 12:31 says, “The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things will be given to you. The Message paraphrase, Steep your life in God reality, God initiative, God provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find your everyday human needs and concerns will be met.”
#6. We must shift our thinking from security to service. Mark 8:35 says, “Only those who throw away their lives for My sake and the sake of the good news will ever know what it means to really live.” Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us strip away anything that slows us down or holds us back and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”
#7. We must shift our thinking from comfort to sacrifice. Romans 12:1, “Since God has shown us such great mercy, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to Him.” James 4:7 says, “Give yourself completely to God.” We don’t need something to live for; rather, we need something to die for. We are willing to live for Jesus but are we willing to die for Jesus?