Four Ways to Be the Body of Christ During the Coronavirus

By: William D. Shiell

Churches and institutions are preparing for the coronavirus medically. We’re instructing people to follow C.D.C. guidelines, wash their hands, and take precautions as we would normally do anyway. Some groups are rescheduling mission trips out of an abundance of caution and concern they might be quarantined.
But how do we prepare churches to be the body of Christ through the season of coronavirus? On Tuesday evening, March 3, at Northern Seminary’s Emmanuel Chapel, I shared four ways every church can prepare to share the gospel with their lives in the time of coronavirus.
1.) Bless those who are in healing ministries and workplaces.
The church is already deployed on mission “the other six” days of the week. We are already healing the sick and caring for victims through the lives of nurses, mental health professionals, paramedics, physicians and many more. Take time in your worship service through sermon and benediction to bless those who are already on the front lines of this virus. Every day they risk contracting diseases and provide healing to others.
2.) Organize your church leaders around the healing ministries of Jesus.
When was the last time your elders, trustees, or deacons missed worship services because of an illness they contracted from visiting the hospital?
Eusebius writes of one such example in the early church. During the plague of A.D. 260 in Alexandria, the African Bishop Dionysius noted that elders and laymen were willing to take on the diseases of others. Many became sick and died by willingly transferring the disease to themselves.  (Eusebius H.E. 7.22.7)
This is a season for church officers to take the lead by exercising their responsibilities. Check on those who are homebound, visit hospitals, and care for those who are vulnerable.
3.) Contact local agencies such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army 
If there is a quarantine in your area, these agencies will need facilities and volunteers to assist with those who need food and comfort. Offering space and presence are two of the most important things churches can provide. Even if these agencies don’t need the walls of your church, they will need your support. As we learn during times of disasters, the church becomes the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
4.) Walk with people through illness.
Using common sense and safety precautions, we can walk with people as they face disease and death. We can show and demonstrate that we are willing to face the reality of our own mortality with Jesus. Care for those who are victims and family members who are traumatized.
In so doing, we will be the body of Christ in the time of the coronavirus.

March 9, 2020

William D. Shiell

President, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching

ABOUT William

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