It was about 1 am Saturday morning when it struck me: “This is not just a challenge, it is an opportunity, an opportunity to lead!” The day before I had been a bit disconcerted. Rick Ravis and I had been discussing canceling services. Rick brought it up. I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to run away. But where would I run to? This was all so disruptive. It disrupted all my plans for the future! I went to sleep feeling disturbed.
When the thought came to me, “not just challenge, but opportunity,” I started jotting down ideas about how to make the most of the opportunity. When I awoke the next morning, my disconcerted feelings were gone and were replaced by a fervent desire to lead our church to seize the opportunity before us. It is clear that this coronavirus is a great evil being used directly or indirectly by Satan. But our great God is well able to take the plans of the Evil One and turn them for kingdom good. God disrupts our plans that He might brIng to pass His plans.
Here are some things this disruption is doing for us:
We have been trying to go more digital for many, many months (I am a bit embarrassed to tell you how long!) — but couldn’t make much progress. But now in the space of a week we have begun using an online platform (Zoom) for many, many meetings. We have had some technical glitches but are learning fast. We have initiated online giving. We have a meeting tomorrow on how to make better use of social media.
We are quickly developing a more fully thought through shepherding program. Our leaders are calling all our people at least once every two weeks. Our deacons have gotten engaged in preparing to serve people in need (things like groceries) and are seeking to get others engaged. We are making plans to train others to help in shepherding.
Prayer has been becoming a more and more important part of our church. But using Zoom we are now beginning 20 minute prayer times on line. Today was the first day and we had 8 people praying together. We have scheduled two prayer times for tomorrow. Why didn’t I think of this before?
We are seeing this as an opportunity for outreach as we encourage our people to share the link to our online service each week with friends and neighbors. We are creating an online flyer for people to send out using social media and email. People who would never come to church, might very well log in for an online service.
I have had numerous conversations with other pastors both on the phone and online as we seek to encourage and help one another in the battle. I have gotten thoughts and ideas from others that we are seeking to put into practice. This is why I love the BFC so much, we are a fellowship of churches. This is a time for us to partner together for the sake of the gospel.
My desire is that God would use this moment to bring revival to His church—here in Piscataway, NJ, in the BFC, and to the whole church. That is the need of the moment. I am not a historian of revivals, but I do know that some of the revivals happened in the context of some crisis. Could God use this crisis to accomplish what seems impossible: a spiritual awakening of the people of God that overflows into an awakening of the peoples? May it begin with the Bible Fellowship Church!
Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones (I am told) said that we cannot make revival happen, but we can build an altar for the fire of God! Let us build an altar, brothers and sisters and see what God may do.
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said to His disciples that the reason they could not cast out a demon was, “because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Let’s believe together, let’s work together. We are in the battle together.
Dennis M. Cahill is co-pastor of Christ Community Church, Piscataway, NJ.