Dan Hoffman

Have you felt the slight breeze of hope beginning to blow into our quarantined lives?  Things are starting to lighten up.  So what are you looking forward to?

When my wife and I were getting ready to move home from South Korea where we had lived for four years I remember dreaming about some of the different foods I was going to consume as soon as I got home – pizza without corn on the top!! 

So what are you looking forward to most about the new normal we are heading into?

Maybe you are dreaming about the people you are going to hug, or the vacation you are going to go on.  What about for the church?

I think one of the most exciting things about the new normal we are heading into is the opportunity the church has to focus on those Jesus has put us beside in a fresh way.

Change has been forced on us over the last several months and it has been uncomfortable.  We have been stripped of many things we loved about church (smiles, hugs, hearing the sounds of a hundred people singing, pot-lucks, treats after church etc etc).  I really hope we get some of those things back.  But I've also grown aware of some of the innovation that has happened because of COVID.

Online classrooms and shopping, video conferenced doctor's appointments, work from home scenarios.  The Corona Virus has had some amazing results, and they aren’t going away.  That’s exciting!  Crisis promotes innovation because companies are forced to think of new ways to meet the needs of their clients.

And it’s not just business that works this way.  Did you know that church start-ups or “plants” are way more effective at winning new people to Christ than established churches?  The reason why, says Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research, is because “their focus is on reaching the unchurched.”  Existing churches tend to focus inward. 

And so here’s the crazy spot we find ourselves: every church is a start up right now!  Every church will either replant itself or it won’t open at all – those are our two options. 

And what this means is that we have an opportunity to focus on the unchurched like a church plant – and maybe get to watch Jesus move in a similar way.  Wouldn’t that be exciting!

So the question in front of us and every church right now is “What can we do differently in order to shine the light of Christ into our city in an effective way?” Here’s the reality – everything has changed.  Our neighbours have been shaken up.  Some have lost loved ones to COVID (I’ve got a close friend who lost an uncle).  Others have been unable to have memorial services for loved ones.  Some have lost RRSP’s and are feeling financially vulnerable.  Some have lost jobs.  Some have lost weddings they had planned.  Everyone has lost something.  And when we lose something, especially something that we’ve leaned on for meaning in life, we start looking around for a new foundation.   We’ve got an opportunity here for the church.

Not only that, but statistics show that there are lots of people who would never be caught dead in church but have been attending services online.  Primarily these are people who have had contact with Christ in the past but turned away for various reasons.  These are usually our family members and friends.  These are people we love.  And statistics show that many of them have tuned in to online services over the last three months.

On top of this there are between 70,000-75,000 people in Prince George who never attended church prior to COVID so the opportunity to focus outward is almost endless.  And this is the way church start-ups think. 

So yes, things have changed, and some of this change has been uncomfortable and I hope they go away, but wouldn’t it be awesome if the church was able to capitalize on the place people are at and found new ways to shine the light of Christ into our community? 

Would you pray with me to this end?  Come Lord Jesus!  

Standing with you in the advance of the gospel,