By Kevin Freeman
We find several troubling negative aspects of our COVID-19 quarantine, but what about the positive aspects? There is a silver lining for both families and ministries during our period of sequester, plus a few tips along the way.
There is rest in the land.
Reports declare the positive impacts of reduced travel and activity. The air is cleaner and the leaves seem greener. People are also taking time to enjoy the beauty of creation.
Old Testament Israel was supposed to give the land rest once every seven years. When the people later became exiles, that extended time gave rest in the land (2 Chronicles 36:21). Unlike Israel, we are still farming the land, but many of us are also simply enjoying the land.
Rest in the land reminds us that God’s creation exists for our enjoyment as much as it is for our usage.
Distractions have decreased.
Sports are gone. Unnecessary travel is on hold. People are actually becoming tired of their electronics and are at least somewhat anxious to unplug.
This leads to more thinking in a society often accused of never taking the time to ponder what is truly important. It leads to a higher priority on connections that matter most.
Spiritual thirst is growing.
This unplanned rest has revealed to any their need for something more, something deeper. People crave meaningful connection, and that’s a good thing for churches.
Have you heard about the problems telemarketers are having? Even they can tell people are lonely. Instead of hearing the line go dead, many are dealing with extended call times with people who just want to talk.
Outreach to friends and neighbors has a bigger impact than usual.
Volunteers get a break.
Your amazing ministry workers who deserve an extended vacation have just gotten one. Those workhorses have found themselves unhitched from the nursery or usher duty and can graze in the fields for a bit.
Ministry leaders can make this time even sweeter with an encouraging note to these folks, with thanks to God for their labors and pray for their rejuvenation.
Family ministry is front and center.
All this talk of rest and rejuvenation is likely a foreign concept to makeshift homeschooling parents who cannot find time for their own work responsibilities. Even amid this newfound stress, families are enjoying more time together than ever. Learning to work together as a family helps them grow and strengthen their bonds.
Churches that encourage family worship and Bible reading together can deepen the impact. Don’t skip out on the fun, either. Plan some online family activities that can be recorded and shared with your church by video.
Ministries come into better perspective.
Many do not realize that periods of rest often lead to fresh ideas. Churches have discovered new ways to conduct their ministries and many of these should continue even after churches begin meeting again.
For some ministries, perhaps less is more. Some which used to meet weekly could be just as effective with meetings every other week or even monthly. Monthly ministries might be better off with plans for quarterly activities.
New ministries which should continue have developed, while others are ready to ride off into the sunset. How will your church ministries adjust for the better when you return?
We serve a God who habitually takes negative circumstances and brings about positive – even amazing – results. It should be no surprise to discover He is doing the same right now. Brighter days aren’t just ahead. They’re already here.
Kevin Freeman is associate pastor at Redland Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland.