The Church in Covid-19 World
The Kingdom Citizens Pavilion, Jos Experience
Greetings from Jos City, North Central Nigeria. It is my belief that God in His mercies is keeping safe and healthy in the midst of this Global Pandemic.
I never planned to put these thoughts into writing but a casual and usual Skype (yes skype, he still uses Skype) chat with Lowell led to this. He asked how I was coping with the lockdown and I explained my current learning task during this pandemic which has been LEARNING HOW TO DO NOTHING.
My guiding scriptures has been:
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10, NKJV)
“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”” (Habakkuk 2:20, NKJV)
This position has been influenced by my exposure to THEOLOGY OF WORK and how the concept has successfully shaped The Kingdom Citizens Pavilion (KCP) Jos, the church which I currently serve.
It is no longer news that the current COVID-19 Pandemic has altered the world and no doubt has implications for Church globally and KCP in particular. But a bit different of experience for KCP being a TOW woven church.
I was introduced to TOW in 2008 and started teaching this revolutionary biblical concept in 2009. TOW has challenged and continues to challenge the way I see and understand church. But the journey of weaving the concept into our Church life has been more challenging than the teaching.
TOW gave me the opportunity to rethink the Great Commission as given to the church by Jesus, the operating manual of the church as detailed by Paul, the apostle in his epistle to the Ephesians; the conclusion cannot but be that the church as conceived by Jesus and explained by Paul was never meant to be building where people gather as an end in itself but the gathering was meant to be the platform of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry – ministry being the daily work/vocation of the believers carried out where they spend most of their waking moments.
My studies revealed to me that the meaning of the word translated from Latin as “MASS” used by the Catholic Church to describe their meetings actually means “NOW YOU ARE DISMISSED” – further confirming that the church was never about gathering but scattering or better still - DEPLOYMENT.
This understanding totally altered the structure and expression of our church in Jos. The gifting and calling of members became critical in relationships and discipleship – we had to abandon the one size fits all model of where all believers were taught the same way to one that frees saints to see the bible, church and the world through the prism of their call and also see their gifts and callings as a means of serving God to the world.
The kingdom Citizens Pavilion currently operate as a TOW woven church – members are currently grouped into professional groups of HEALTH, ARTS, EDUCATION AND BUSINESS and each of these are supposed to undertake a community development initiative as an expression of their call. (Details of this was captured in my interview with Dr. Larry Peabody last year)
The outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic brought the reality closer home to us as a community…COVID-19 changed all things, introduced new words into our vocabulary chief amongst them was “SOCIAL DISTANCING” which makes Sunday and mid-week meetings impossible. It suddenly hit us that the Kingdom Citizens Pavilion has been prepared through the TOW concept for times such as this.
While most churches and other organizations switched and did the most and seemingly sensible thing = GO ONLINE, work from home, hold virtual services – prayer meetings, bible studies, even Holy Communion was shared virtually. It was a no-brainer for us that we were not meant to GO ONLINE but REMAIN ON SITE. KCP didn’t miss Church because we have always been Church.
The rush to have ONLINE SERVICES drew much flak from the unbelieving world accusing the church of being in “it” for the money. We really appeared so.
For us in KCP we concluded that all the years of GATHERING for teaching and learning should now be deployed for the benefit of the world. KCP was told that we don’t need more gathering for sermons but to GO and DO the ones we have received over the years. We were reminded of the timeless quote from St Francis of Assisi “PREACH THE GOSPEL ALWAYS & WHEN NECESSARY USE WORDS”.
The truth is that if all we have in terms of sermons is what we are ever going to have, it is actually enough to make a difference in the world.
The rush to have services online basically confirms what the emphasis of the church still is – GATHERING – it is still largely a “COME GOSPEL” rather than a “GO GOSPEL”
TOW prepared KCP for a COVID-19 world because our HEALTH PROFESSIONAL BIBLE STUDY GROUP was already deployed to cater for victims in line with their calling
Our BUSINESS PERSONS BIBLE STUDY GROUP were already activated to make provisions for those in the community who might be in need of basic supplies
Just few weeks before the outbreak of the pandemic, one of our musicians launched a YouTube channel and uploaded tons of music instrumentals for meditation and reflection – seemingly in anticipation of a lockdown.
COVID-19 might mean many things to different people, but I believe that it is a cruel reminder and wakeup call for the Church to be the church as designed by the founder.
We were never designed to be a GATHERED CHURCH as an end in itself, but SCATTERED CHURCH PENETRATING THE WORLD AS SALT AND LIGHT.
It’s impossible to GO TO CHURCH…CHURCH GOES TO PLACES AND OCCUPY SPACES
Blessings on you all and yours
Jos City, Nigeria
Comments from other tow practitioners:
Lowell, I think this is timely and tremendous! The content is great. - Dr Larry Peabody, Professor of Theology of Work - Bakke Graduate University
...This is really inspiring. It is a paradigm shift that will enable the church fulfill her mandate once understood and practiced. - Chinyama
Dr Dot reflection on the suitability of THEOLOGY OF WORK is a wake up call for the church of Christ to focus more on developing disciples who are prepared to affect the world as the salt and Light,Not to gather but to scatter." - James Gichuki
For me, I see the uniqueness of TOW on fulfilling the great commission of Jesus Christ.
While the Churches are struggling from the way the coronavirus has affected their worship processes and ministry practices, THEOLOGY OF WORK show us that this is the time for us to continue the ministry through the scattered Church. Thank you Dr. Dot for a good reflection that since the beginning God wanted us to reach the world through the scattered Church. - Samuel Maduma