The impact of the COVID-19 virus on life around the world has been huge. In many places life has turned upside down. Restaurants and businesses have closed. Fear and shortages are common. Changes occurred–from hand-washing and masks to meeting and work at home and online. In the face of this pandemic, disciple-making dangers lurk for the church.
Jesus instructed His disciples (and us) in how to live and what to do by His life, teachings, commands, and even His death. We are to love one another as He loved (John 13:34). We are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). And we are to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).These three commands change everything! When we love one another and love our neighbor the way He did, making disciples flows naturally. Jesus is with us to carry out His commands–even in the face of danger and change (Matthew 28:20b).
But this pandemic has played havoc on our habits. It has changed our normal social patterns and interactions. Extended families, friends, church families, and employees have not seen one another in person. Communication has been by phone or digital means more than ever before.
In this new world, opportunities for expressing love and making disciples look different than before. At the same time, there are dangers and opportunities to stumble in those efforts. Consider some of the potential dangers:
- change resulting in fatigue causes greater cocooning (retreating into the home from life)
- change resulting in distraction causing personal spiritual disciplines and growth to suffer
- reduced social interaction offers fewer opportunities for conversation and observation of needs for expressions of love, encouragement, and witness
- stress and fatigue resulting in reduced creativity in when and how to interact safely with disciples
- fear of the virus causing requests to be discipled and offers to disciple to be fewer
- newness to online meeting platforms causing hesitation to move online
- online meetings (of all kinds) tending to stay more focused on agenda than on personal conversation offering less expression of love and disciple-making
- lack of familiarity with digital disciple-making materials and applications.
Perhaps the biggest disciple-making danger lies in disobedience. Every one of the dangers listed above can be overcome in multiple ways. But allowing the dangers to cause us to miss opportunities to disciple others is disobedience. We must recognize the impact on the disciple, potential disciple, the Kingdom, and even ourselves when we fail to disciple–even in these days of pandemic.
Prayerfully seek ways to discover disciples and to invest in them. Make every moment matter. Continue growing as a disciple. Make disciples!