MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, April 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Our world has changed, and Christians must respond thoughtfully. Here’s WORLD Founder Joel Belz.
JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: If I’ve asked a dozen people, I’ve asked a hundred: “What does this current crisis remind you of? The recession of 2008? Nine-eleven? The Kennedy assassination?”
“Nothing at all,” they respond. “This is so totally different.”
And the response has been unanimous. Even a few of my oldest respondents—old enough to remember the Great Depression and World War II—join the chorus. “This is radically different,” they say.
What makes them think that?
Try this explanation. These folks are joined in their response because they sense how widespread, deep, and pervasive the destruction is. They sense the enormity of the rebuilding task when this cloud passes.
I think they’re probably right. And that’s why American Christians need to be preparing to spend all kinds of “This-is-different-energy” in the extended recovery that looms on the horizon.
That recovery involves our businesses, of course. But perhaps more importantly, it will involve our churches, our educational enterprises, our missions and benevolences, and hundreds of other fronts we’ve barely thought of.
Our churches will need to be rebuilt. Never in our nation’s history has the church at large been compelled to put on a disappearing act first for several weeks, and now likely stretching into months. What makes us think that we’ll come through that aberration unscathed?
It’s not primarily that millions of dollars’ worth of pews and buildings lie empty every week. More disturbing are reports from significant and once-healthy churches that only a fraction of members are now taking advantage of live-streaming worship, while tithes and offerings are slipping. Will our churches rediscover their true Biblical mission of making and training disciples?
Our schools will need emergency aid. The transition this spring for many Christian schools, colleges, and even seminaries has been costly and unsettling: shutting down campuses for the last half of the spring semester and moving online. Thousands of Christian families will be reexamining their commitments at several levels. Don’t be surprised if some schools never reopen.
We’ll all need to rethink what role leisure time and leisure dollars play in our scheme of things. If our institutions are likely to need extra fuel for their depleted tanks later this year, it’s all but certain that we’ll find ourselves close to needy families or individuals who are newly unemployed or otherwise stressed. Is this a unique opportunity to reallocate some of what we spent last year on travel and recreation?
It’s not for me to propose specifics for WORLD readers and listeners—and my wife Carol Esther and I have to discuss a bit more what our part should be. But none of us dare fall back to what we did last year. The devastation is just too extensive.
Remember: “This is different!”
I’m Joel Belz.