Currently, the pandemic has been effectively controlled in China. Economic activity in most of the country has resumed. Maybe it won't be long before the Church opens to the public again. However, there might be some challenges for the Church in the post-pandemic era.
Believers are getting used to the convenience and benefits of online services during the outbreak. They may inevitably become lazy and consequently not attend on-site services when the Church resumes. As a result, some churches will lose believers who don’t prefer on-site services and these believers might become weak in their faith or even fall prey to heresy. How to get these brothers and sisters back to their churches is a difficult and urgent issue.
Online sermons, to a certain extent, have deconstructed the original Church patterns and attributed to a huge change in believers’ sense of belonging. Taking my city as an example, most of the churches provide online sermons which some believers find better than that of their own churches. So, every week they will attend other churches’ online services. This situation will inevitably lead to a high rate of believers not returning to their chuches. Some churches will have problems with growing in number. Some believers have duties, perform services or hold positions already in their own churches, but choose to change churches for better sermons. This will definitely make a huge impact on their original churches. These issues are worthy of profound reflection by each minister.
A lot of ministries have stopped now. After they resume, rebuilding these ministries will be a great burden, especially for churches whose membership is highly flexible and in which the majority are migrant workers who may not stay in a place long. Also, many clergy have fled from their places of residence or even their cities to avoid the outbreak. Some ministries may face a serious shortage of staff. How to recruit new co-workers and allow old co-workers to get on track quickly are concerns for the re-establishment of ministries.
Financial donations from believers is foundational for the development of a church. After on-site gatherings were temporarily suspended, churches’ income is largely lost except those who provide QR codes as a means of financial donation. Even though they may make online donations available, the amount of income is significantly reduced. In addition, the outbreak has resulted in a decline in the income of many believers or even the loss of work. It's hard for them to fund their churches. After resumption, the Church will need money to ensure the restoration of ministries and the financial situation is really worrying. This is a very realistic and difficult challenge.
Apart from the above mentioned, many people are living in confusion and fear. Those believers who have lost their loved ones feel even worse. Their spiritual maturity causes concern. How to get them out of the shadows and regain strength will be a special focus of a lot of ministers in the post-pandemic era.
Finally, the elderly believers who don’t know how to use smart mobile phones are unable to attend online services. What about their faith quality after a long absence from nurtures? How to do a good job in the ministry for elderly believers will be another important issue.
- Translated by Charlie Li