The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to question many things in our lives that we once took for granted—how and where we work, what school looks like, how we greet and talk to each other, even what we wear when we go into the grocery store.
The church is not exempt. In fact, I’d argue that churches have been affected by COVID-19 as much as, if not more than, anything else.
Before the pandemic, the core of most local church activity was the physical building. It was where services were held, where young people gathered for programming, and where community outreach began. When COVID-19 forced those buildings to close their doors, leaders and members had to rethink what their church was about and how to do ministry.
Was church limited to Sunday worship services? If so, could social media broadcasts or video recordings replace what physical gatherings could offer? And if church was about more than worship, how could we continue to be community and do mission when the pandemic prevented us from being together?
Similar questions emerged at the classis and denominational levels. What are the core things that we believe God has called us to do together, and how can we accomplish those things in new ways, given our current realities? In the midst of all this, we’ve also been faced with numerous instances of racial injustice and an increased call to do something about it.
It has been a challenging year as we have navigated these difficult questions individually and corporately. We have faced grief and loss. There have been financial hardships. We have debated and argued with each other.
But we’ve also been reminded that church is much more than a building or a collection of buildings. The church of Jesus Christ is a group of redeemed people on mission with God in the world.
We have found new ways to tap into the Holy Spirit, to discern where God is calling us, and to creatively pursue this mission. On the following pages, you’ll read reports from the ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. I hope that as you read about ways that ministry has been reimagined in order to continue God’s kingdom work, you’ll see yourselves as key partners in all of it.
—Colin Watson, Sr., is the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.