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Converting crisis into an opportunity to share the Good News

Converting crisis into an opportunity to share the Good News

Converting crisis into an opportunity to share the Good News

24 September 2020

Captain Manikya Mera says the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t significantly impact on her congregation due to its organic nature and focus on building real relationships. (Photo taken before COVID-19)

By Manikya Mera

COVID-19 has affected the Church worldwide. Many churches have been forced to virtualise themselves to stay linked to their congregation. For several years, the Church has worked linearly in buildings where the community is supposed to come and attend formal worship. This linear thinking never inspired churches to explore other ways in which they could be more effective in spreading the Gospel.

The tragedy of the pandemic provided an incentive for the Church to step out of the box. Platforms like Zoom, where people can come together and Pushpay [where a tithe can be made online], are becoming more prevalent among churches. In Australia, more than 300 church buildings have been sold in the past 18 months because of the decline in traditional churchgoers.

Buildings have become an icon mostly used for business rather than its original intent. The conventional model of the Church is struggling to advance the Gospel and becoming more like an inward-looking community. The pandemic has reinforced the Church to lead the salvation war alternatively instead of in a traditional way. The crisis is an opportunity, so this could be an opportunity for the Church to reflect and find alternative ways to spread the Good News of Jesus.

One way that has worked for us in Melbourne is by focusing on relationships. We began developing relationships with the people in our local community as we became friends with people. We shared the Gospel through our words and character, which led many to believe in Jesus. Since 2014, our faith group has expanded to more than 100 people from different ethnic backgrounds.

The pandemic did not have a significant impact on our version of the Church due to our focus on building real relationships. In our faith community, there is no structured partnership between a pastor and a congregation; instead, we are all equal as friends, exploring Jesus and deeply reflecting on the Word of God. We don’t have any worship service or songs, but we only read the Bible continuously week by week, and through that, people have come to faith.

The pandemic teaches the established Church a lesson to go back to the organic way of spreading the faith, not formalising it inside the buildings or one-hour worship, but instead keeping it informal, expressing in every moment of our lives through our character.

The greatest challenge for the Church is not to learn new practices of sharing the Gospel, but rather to unlearn old ways that have become outdated. Let us go out, not to convert people, but to represent the true love of Jesus, with no agendas attached. Jesus healed people, showed the compassion that led many to believe in him. Loving our God and our neighbour has done wonders and still does.

So let us focus on these two greatest commandments and nothing else.

Captain Manikya Mera is Intercultural Officer of The Salvation Army Metro West Intercultural Ministries in Melbourne.


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