Perspectives on a Pandemic: Part 2

March 20, 2020


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An unusual season of life provides unique opportunities.


Hello Alliance family. This is a first! I’m coming to you today from my own lower level, recording my own video on a laptop and, I suppose, unusual times call for unusual methods. But I wanted to come back to you again today and continue a message that was launched last week. I called it “Perspectives on a Pandemic,” and I want to follow up today and every Friday, Lord willing, for a period of time—as long as it feels appropriate to keep speaking into this situation in which we find ourselves. As unusual as it is, it just gives me a unique opportunity to speak to the Alliance family. So, I’m going to keep seizing it. Thank you for following along.

And today I have three simple points to offer. I’m calling us today to use this opportunity to learn, to lean in, and to lead. By learn, I simply mean that this moment in time has created this necessity for some of us to develop some new skills. For me, I’ve had to learn how to do a webinar; how to engage in Zoom calls; how to record this video on my laptop [and] upload the file; [and] how to work from home. Various things that I have not done before . . . even doing a conference call on my phone.

Some of you will laugh because I am a late adapter to certain tools available to us, and you’ve been doing these things for a long period of time. But whatever the specific application, my point is simple: that the unusual set of circumstances we find ourselves in disrupts our norm, and in the norm disruption it gives us the necessity and opportunity to develop a new skill set. And for some of you that is how to work from home well [or] how to give online. You’ve always just given through an offering plate . . . well, the offering plate isn’t being passed because the church isn’t open.

And so how do you continue to express your passionate desire for the Kingdom of God to go forward and for you to be financially invested in that through your own personal offerings when there’s no offering plate? Well, online giving is a wonderful tool and resource, and your church may have that or is quickly seeking to develop it. And the National Office has had it for many years—a safe and secure means of giving charitable donations. So that would be one example of a learning curve. For others, it’s learning to relate differently . . . not shaking hands and keeping a physical distance or not even being in the same building as somebody but developing relationships that are genuine. So, there’s something to learn at this moment of time, and some of that will be very practical in nature—and actually assist us after we’re done with this current season. Learn something during this time.

Second, lean in. By that, I’m simply calling us to community. While we are in a moment of time where our governments and health organizations are rightly calling us for social distancing, that should not be misunderstood to be social disengagement. “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing,” the author of Hebrews says, “but let us do so all the more, as we see the day approaching.” Well that may not be physically possible, but your cell phones still work, and most of us have social media accounts. And this is a moment of time to lean in.

I had a conversation outdoors with a neighbor. I actually got to learn four new names of children in our neighborhood this week as there was more outdoor activity. I kept a proper physical distance, but I’m now on a first-name basis with four preteens and teens, and that was one more expression of learning and leaning into community that this moment in time gives us.

Some of you are surprised that I just mentioned a few moments ago the phrase “social media.” Because six weeks ago, on a video blog called “A Timely Word” on February 12, I gave a rather scathing word about misuses of social media. But, while I still stand by those statements and invite you to go back and look at that if you haven’t seen it, I do want to clearly say that there are proper uses of social media where we engage on a level of community with people we care about and want to communicate with.

And so, this may be a time for us to invest in healthy ways in social media where our love and concern and prayers and support for people are properly expressed—and rich conversations are had by messaging—rather than sitting across the coffee table from each other perhaps. So, simple request Alliance family: While your church can’t meet physically, the Church can still be the Church relationally    . . . loving, supporting, encouraging. Write some notes, extend some love, show some kindness. Lean into community.

Lastly, this is a moment to lead. I don’t love the fact that I’ve had to cancel all kinds of travels. Three SEEK events have canceled; numerous National Conversations have had to cancel. Various other events have just toppled like dominoes, and it’s OK. It really is. “We make our plans,” one poet says, “and God laughs.” And so, He’s getting a chuckle by all the things that are being erased from my calendar right now, and I’m seeking, “Lord what do you have for me instead?” And part of that is how do I lead now, in a different manner than I had planned to lead during this season? See, every moment of crisis gives us, or creates, a new opportunity to lead with our ideas, with our perspectives, with our attitude, with our demeanor. But the question I’d like to pose to us today is simply this: What does this unique moment in time give us the creativity or the courage to do? Let me say it again: What does this unique moment give us the creativity or the courage to do?

There’s certainly something at this moment that, as leaders, is being stirred within your spirit to call out of yourself and your congregation those that you influence—to further extend the love of Jesus to the neighbors, and nations, and to the nations that have come to our neighborhoods. And so, let’s not recoil or pull back at this time, which I’m tempted to do as many of us are because I can’t lead as I’m accustomed to leading. But let us learn, lean in, and lead well during this season.

You have our prayers at the National Office. As you do, our primary concern is for the local church. We are a church-centered ministry, and so you’re our primary concern. Our National Office is open, although only about 10 percent of our staff are scattered throughout that building. And 90 percent of our staff are working remotely from home. So, we still answer emails and respond to calls and all that. We’re open for business, so to speak. But, hear my heart today. I am tempted to recoil at this moment, but I believe that the Spirit of God is calling us to learn, lean in, and lead. God help us all.


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