How We Respond Matters: Coronavirus and the Church

March 20, 2020

At this time, more than any other, I believe that the weaknesses of the Western church are being exposed. Allow me to quote a small portion of my last book, Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art, where I write, not to leaders, but to the believers everywhere:

“We’ve been expecting our church services to be the witnesses when we were told that we ourselves would be his witnesses. For decades the church bombarded the enemy with powerful mortars, like a massive battleship, while we safely stood on deck behind the armored plating, swabbing the decks, and doing other church chores. That worked great in the eighties, but in case you haven’t heard, the eighties were over a quarter of a century ago. Those days are done. That’s why those battle tactics won’t work anymore, and it’s time to regroup.

Reaching the unreached in the years to come will require people to infiltrate communities like Navy SEAL teams. Our military brass entrusts some of our most critical missions to SEAL teams because they can perform extractions where naval battleships fail. In the case of reaching the unreached the splinter cell approach is the right tool for the job. The average believer can infiltrate enemy territory throughout the week with the stealth of an airborne ranger, duck-dive over the railings, and plunge into the deep. If immersion into hostile waters is an occupational requirement of being a Navy SEAL, we’ve been unable to accomplish the mission because we’ve been afraid to get our feet wet. Just being you, filled with Christ will bring you many more conversations and experiences to proclaim Christ than seeking out a “mission.”

Stories have piled up about communities changed by small unassuming everyday believers discovering new and innovative ways of connecting with individuals as they blunder into mission. Big doors turn on small hinges. Tugboats turn tankers. Splinter cells can win wars. We’re in a different kind of battle, where individual guerilla tactics make you a fast moving, light footed, low to the ground reconnaissance weapon of witness. You won’t be effective in big numbers in the future. You won’t need the heavy artillery. You’re perfect for the job in a way that your church never will be. No matter what we do, no matter how many programs we launch, stadiums we fill, or outreaches we put on, statistics from Lifeway Research tell us that sixty percent of the un-churched American populace will never come to church. Period. It’s up to you. There is no cavalry riding over the hill, no big guns, no backup ground support, no rescue team coming.

Just you.”

Ministry according to Ephesians 4 says that the gifting of the church with shepherd, teachers, evangelists, prophets, and shepherds, is about “equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry”. That means that when something like the Corona virus hits, leaders should be thinking of it as a pop quiz to measure how effectively they’ve been discipling their congregations.

The church can shine bright, even on lockdown.

  1. Our members can display peace in the midst of panic.
  2. They can model sacrifice in contrast to the survival instincts of the hoarders.
  3. They can keep the candle of hope lit as a beacon to those who are adrift and tossed by every wave of social media madness.

Perhaps it’s our people who should be instructed how to take meetings online. Maybe our people should be trained to gather online community groups on their street, and act as counselors. Perhaps all those years in small groups, where they learned to use their gifts, and get on mission…



Peyton Jones

Peyton Jones

Peyton Jones is a church planter, author, speaker, outreach consultant, and founder of NewBreed Training. Peyton co-founded Church Planter Magazine as well as the Church Planter Podcast, Hardcore Church Planting podcast, and Ministry Ninja Podcast. Peyton is passionate about writing (Church Zero, 2013; Reaching the Unreached, 2017; and Church Plantology, 2021), and training. Born in Washington, DC, but raised in Huntington Beach, California, he married his high school sweetheart. He is the father of two children, Liberty and Eden.
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