One of the many advantages of being the oldest child is knowing how certain technology works before your siblings, and exploiting that advantage. For example, I convinced one of my younger brothers that the automatic door at the grocery store opened by voice command. Now you have to understand that this was in the 1980’s and the grocery store automatic door mechanism worked using a pressure pad on the ground that activated when you walked up to the door, and voice commands were something out of science fiction. After a few instructions and demonstrations, my brother was convinced that, when someone would walk up to a door and say “open”, it would magically open. I spent several days enjoying his disillusionment when it didn’t work on non-automatic doors, especially when he assumed he just had to talk louder or slower.
As automatic doors were for my brother, the opening and closing of doors for ministry can be somewhat of a mystery. Some doors open while others close. Sometimes they open in advance, sometimes we are called to walk up to them in faith that they will open, and sometimes they close without warning. COVID-19 has rearranged doors in ministry, and God has opened some of them while closing others. Although we have largely understood COVID-19 through a closed-door motif (socially distanced, quarantine, lock down, and restrictions), COVID-19 has also opened many doors. This has been the case in my life and ministry.
God has opened doors to greater intimacy with Him. This season has opened doors for going deeper with Jesus. Untethered from my usual routines and pre-programed answers, God has opened doors for increased reliance and dependence on Him rather than my existing routines, patterns, and programs. Comfort breeds complacency and complacency produces apathy. My life had grown complacent in certain areas and COVID-19 forced me to confront them, pulling me out of my pre-programed ruts and putting me on a path of hunger and thirsting for more of Jesus.
God has opened doors to innovation. One of the secrets to innovation is intentionally creating space for it. You must be able to say “no” to say “yes.” Although I am creative and innovative by nature, COVID-19 amplified this in my life and ministry by creating time and space to try new things. As a result of closed doors, our church exploded with creativity as we experimented with new ministry methodologies and missional opportunities. It also allowed me to share my academic and ministry expertise in digital ministry (something I have studied and taught on for years) to numerous church leaders across Canada and the USA, helping churches with innovative approaches in digital ministry.
God has opened doors to many new and treasured relationships. I have formed new friendships with pastors and church leaders from multiple denominations across Canada and have grown increasingly optimistic about the future of the church. This season has led to increased collaboration and a refreshing cross-pollination of ideas among churches and denominations. It has been a beautiful display of churches collectively expanding the Kingdom.
God has opened doors for our church to engage our community. Our church is in a unique-context community and COVID-19 has provided clarity for our local missional engagement strategy. We always struggled with how to engage our community of closed gates and private driveways. We initially thought COVID-19 would provide opportunity for us to care for them through a health crisis; instead, it has given us the ability to network opportunities for people to care. We have been able to help our community link arms, allowing them to taste and see that the Lord is good as they have come alongside us in mission.
Although COVID-19 has closed many doors, God has opened new doors to ministry and mission through intimacy with Jesus, innovation in mission, and diverse relationships. God is opening a greater experience of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and a clearer hope that He is our Coming King.
This is an article from our Fall 2021 edition of Alliance Connection. Read the full copy here.
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