What We Should Expect When America’s Churches Reopen

America’s churches are starting to reopen. As the spread of COVID-19 shows signs of slowing and government begins to loosen restrictions for public gatherings, we’re slowly coming out of isolation and resuming normal routines. We can once again eat at our favorite restaurant. Walk in the park. Work out in the gym. Get a haircut. Best of all, we can come back to church. But what should we expect when we return? I believe there are three major expectations that every church will need to wrestle with as they reopen. The fact is that many of the churches that closed in March are significantly different today and congregational expectations that […]

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Road Trip: Keeping Your Sanity During Quarantine

When the pressures of the quarantine began taking a toll on our marriage, religion and sanity, my wife and I did the only sensible thing: we took a road trip. A road trip is a statement of freedom and adventure and requires a vehicle that matches. I’m cheap by nature and didn’t want to spring for a rental but Pam’s pickup truck with the Clemson sticker or my 2008 Highlander just didn’t seem right. A road trip is a statement of freedom and adventure and requires a vehicle that matches. So I bit the bullet and rented a bright red Ford Mustang convertible with leather seats, a loud sound system […]

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COVID-19 May Force Churches to Change–and That’s a Good Thing

Sometime in the next few weeks American churches will start reopening following the weeks of quarantine from COVID-19. While no one knows just how the process will go, one thing seems clear: the churches we return to likely won’t be the same as the ones we knew before. The shock our nation has gone through is too drastic to believe otherwise. Medical services, job security, educational calendars, recreation and personal behavior—all the things that make up life’s landscape—shifted so quickly and drastically that it was as if an earthquake struck while we slept and the next morning we woke up to a strange new world. Churches weren’t as stable as […]

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Pandemic Prayer: How to Talk to God in a Crisis

The suffering and disruption of COVID-19 has driven people to prayer as never before—but are they praying in the best way? Maybe that’s not a fair question—who are we to say which prayer is better than another? If the Bible tells us anything about God, it’s that he’s less focused on formal religious behavior than we are. For instance, in one of his best known parables about prayer, Jesus condemns a Pharisee, whose prayer reflected the highest level of Judaism, but affirms a Tax Collector, whose only prayer was the cry of a broken heart, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus says of […]

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Quarantine Reading: Eight Books to Renew Your Soul, Feed Your Mind and Refresh Your Heart

You’re locked down at home and looking for ways to spend your time that don’t involve endless trips to the refrigerator to see if something’s magically appeared that wasn’t there the last time you looked (it hasn’t); entertaining the kids (for once they’re looking after themselves); one more Zoom conference call (will they never end?); or yard work (hallelujah!). What to do next? How about reading a good book—that thing people used to do before Netflix? So here are eight books to help keep you sane, balanced and maybe even grow your faith however long the quarantine lasts. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually […]

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Easter without Church

This Sunday most of us will celebrate Easter—the holiest day of the Christian year—without worshiping together. No one is really happy about it. Blame it on COVID-19 and the social distancing that’s followed in its wake. Schools are out. Restaurants are closed. Many businesses have closed and many that remain open have furloughed their workers. Grocery stores allow only a few people at a time to shop. Until the virus runs its course, authorities tell us, we need to keep our distance from one another and stay at home. And that means not going to church on Easter. Not everyone understands how big a deal that is. For example, those […]

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COVID-19 Is Teaching Us How to Wait

COVID-19 is teaching us some hard lessons but one of the main ones may not be the most visible—we’re learning how to wait. I’m not trying to downplay the severity of the pandemic by imagining some sunny upside. The medical crisis is real, and the way the virus has swept across the globe in three months terrifies almost everyone. The economic disruption left in its wake may turn out to be an even greater problem, with unemployment and financial suffering perhaps lasting years. But America has weathered worse storms than this. The global crises of the last century—the Great Depression and World War II come to mind—prove that by God’s […]

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America’s Churches Can’t Stay Closed Much Longer

Who could have imagined a time when America’s churches would close? Whether natural disasters, wars, tragedies and depressions, Americans have always turned first to their churches in times of national crisis. But two weeks ago the Coronavirus changed everything. In the face of a pandemic that defied medical intervention and government policy, churches of every size, denomination and setting suspended worship, closed their buildings and told their people to stay home. Like almost every other public organization, group or business, congregations went into the self-isolation that health experts pointed to as the best response to the growing threat. It was a hard decision for us pastors to make because we […]

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Building Our Children’s Faith in the Time of Coronavirus

The spread of Coronavirus is threatening untold numbers of lives, de-stabilizing national economies and disrupting the lifestyle of people across the world but for Christian parents it poses an additional risk—the spiritual well-being of our children. How can they learn about faith if they’re surrounded by uncertainty, anxiety and fear? It’s not that we shouldn’t be concerned. The danger of this new virus is real and taking extreme precautions only makes sense. That’s why we’re washing our hands more in an hour than we used to wash them in a day. Trying not to touch our faces. Staying away from crowds. And making sure we have plenty of toilet paper. […]

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Young Parents Don’t Have Time for God and What to Do About It

How can young parents find the time to stay close to God with all the other stuff they have to deal with every day? It’s not that preachers don’t try to help. I encourage my people to personal prayer and Bible study on a regular basis, not out of a sense of religious duty but because of the nature of relationships. If love is a function of time–and it is–how can we expect to love God if we don’t spend time with Him? The problem is that most young parents don’t have time to spare. They wake up in the morning to kids who need breakfast, grocery shopping put off […]

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