Hello BRN Family! With the March 11, 2020, declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic, Pennsylvania/South Jersey Baptists and others from all over the world are exposed to unprecedented times for our current generation. Please be assured we are and have been praying and seeking God for His protection, His healing, and certainly, His direction in the work to which He has called us all.

Churches all over our region are responding to the pandemic concerns in a variety of ways. I want to encourage you with just a few of the positive opportunities and outcomes that can result from this unusual time in our world:

Unlike ever before, we see opportunities for innovation and creativity in our delivery of the Gospel message.

  • With advances in live-streaming technology, such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live, among others, congregations can still participate in worship services, Sunday school classes, and/or virtual prayer events from their own living rooms. Look at it this way: These family gatherings may actually produce special memories and family bonding! But even more, because of the online capabilities, think about how much further your message can be broadened. Perhaps people across the world will now access your messages, too!
  • To assist with intentional discipleship, consider the videos and digital resources available on RightNow Media (for our participating churches) and LifeWay Christian Resources’  “LifeWay Kids at Home,” a free temporary digital resource to supplement Sunday School from home.
  • With Zoom Meetings, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and other technologies, church staffs still may meet to pray, plan and strategize their ministries. They can maintain verbal and visual contact without the threat of spreading illnesses. In fact, our own staff is ready and willing to consult with you and your teams virtually, a practice we have taken advantage of often. Feel free to reach out to us!

Perhaps, apart from using technology to mimic your current church practices, you can use this time to focus more on strategy development.

  • In this forced time of scaling back weekly operations, consider taking the time to pray, discern, plan, and review current systems and tackle those areas where you see bottlenecks, challenges, and/or lack of clear vision. This God-allowed space may be exactly what you need to jump off the hamster wheel and into deep process thinking. Wouldn’t it be amazing to come out of the other side of this with more focus, more clarity, more peace, and more solutions?
  • In other words, we can choose use this time wisely as a gift from the Lord to focus on His agenda rather than our own. Proverbs 19:21 (ESV) says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

At the same time, consider seeing this as a potential season for increased missional engagement within your own family and your own neighborhood.

  • How often do we miss the needs of those nearest to us because we are so busy focusing on our congregations’ needs? May God give us all greater revelation about how to “Love Our Neighbors” well during this time. Much has been said elsewhere about how to care for one another’s needs, so I won’t belabor the point here.
  • Don’t forget the college students, particularly international students, who may now be stranded on college campuses. Do you have room at your table and in your heart to take care of them? This may be an amazing Gospel opportunity!

There is much we can say when all seems to falling apart around us, but I choose to focus on Romans 8:28 ESV, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” 

May we hear God’s voice as we walk through these days. Praying for you!