COVID-19, the coronavirus, The Virus, a modern-day plague. It goes by many names, and it changed the way we see the world. Some would say irrevocably. And amidst the chaos, we find ourselves craving for some degree of normalcy, comfort, and love. Humans want each other’s company, and when we lack that closeness, it invariably feels like we are alone. Christians are not immune to this. If anything, we are taught from the earliest days in our walk with Jesus, to gather: “[W]here two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20 NKJV). And so we’ve had to cope in many ways, and one of them is through digital outreach.
Harvest Ministries had been one of the early adopters to embrace this “new” way of worshiping. And while there is nothing new now about “online church,” this year Harvest at Home became a home for many displaced from their houses of worship, and there was distinct feeling about it being different. Already recognizing that the church had to embrace technology to stay current with a new generation of Christians, Pastor Greg Laurie sensed a need for people to connect on a deeper level and tailored the worship experience directly for people tuning in every week—at an average of 300,000 a week.
When many churches across the country closed, many people have found other things to do on Sunday mornings—while others have just decided to wait it out. But what we learned this year is that God was not waiting to act. God was moving. Fast. He was ahead of this whole crisis, and if there were anyone in history capable of making lemonade out of lemons, it would be the humble carpenter from Nazareth. When Jesus walked this earth, people just came. Some far, some not so much. They sat in fields, in empty auditoriums, and on empty roads to have the chance to gleam of a bit of His wisdom. There was a real commitment and passion from the people to know Him, and they did what they had to do. They just needed some way to hear from Him.
As Pastor Greg shared in his profile in the Wall Street Journal, “[W]e’re navigating waters we’ve never been down before.” He continued: “Part of me thinks there will be a huge surge of people who will want to be in church again once the pandemic subsides. The other view is I think Christians will be apprehensive about being in large crowds,” he added. “I foresee a big question mark.”
That question mark, and whether or not we answer it the right way, may define the future of church-going. But the pandemic hasn’t changed our mission; if anything, we’ve doubled down on our efforts as we move into the future. Whether we go back to a “new” normal with our usual gatherings, or get used to a different way to worship, it is safe to say that the kingdom of God only advances by preaching and prayer—by knowing God and making Him known.
Having seen over 140,000 people make professions of faith through various outreaches, we know we’re experiencing something incredible—something that only God can do. And as we look at the success of these various outreaches, we see the future of the church.
We’re ecstatic about what God’s going to do, and we hope you are too.
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