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Pearl Harbor and the Corona Crisis

Pearl Harbor

Many of us have grappled with a way to get a grasp on the Corona crisis. We have struggled with how to explain it to our people and how to put it into a framework that is helpful for ministry. After all, nothing we have experienced in our lifetime has affected the entire world in such a dramatic fashion.

With this in mind, let me present a comparison that might be helpful in putting our current situation into a context we might understand and can communicate to others. For ministry purposes, I believe the current Corona crisis compares to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the resulting war that followed. With almost no warning, on December 7, 1941 Japan attacked the naval station located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The initial results were devastating with 2,403 people killed and 1,143 injured.

The next day the US declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy. However, it took the US several months to prepare for engagement. During this time, soldiers had to be recruited and trained, ships and planes had to be built, and a plan had to be developed for engaging the enemy in battle. This stage was vitally important but often not what people first think of when they remember World War 2.

Actual battles did not begin until 8 months after Pearl Harbor. Over the next 3 years the US engaged in multiple battles around the world eventually leading to an Allied victory. This phase is what people remember and movies memorialize about WW2.

The last phase of WW2 was the rebuilding of Europe and East Asia. During this time, millions of dollars were spent on rebuilding infrastructure and returning the war ravished countries to some sense of normalcy. This phase lasted several years and involved many US soldiers.

The Corona Crisis

How does the Corona crisis compare to Pearl Harbor and the devastating effects of WW2? I believe the world was attacked by the Corona virus in a surprise assault much like Pearl Harbor. At the beginning of March 2020, most of us could not imagine what the world would look like by the end of the month. A sudden and malicious attack was made on the entire world almost simultaneously.

During this initial phase, we assessed our situation, worked on getting our services online, figured out how to receive offerings, and developed ways to keep in touch with church members. Many hours were spent getting our churches back up and operating.

Make no mistake about it, this was a true crisis. However, we need to see that the real war still lies ahead. We have just begun to enter the second phase. Now, we begin to prepare for the coming battles. Getting our church services back up and running was not the end of the war, it was the end of the first battle. The war still looms ahead.

What do we need to be doing to prepare for the next stage? We need to be looking at this situation as a long and protracted battle that affects every part of our lives. The Corona crisis will have implications for our church member’s work, income, leisure time, and relationships in the future. When the stay at home orders are lifted, we will not just return to BC (Before Corona). We need to be preparing for the PC (Post Corona) era.

At the planning and preparing stage, your church can either take a defensive stance or an offensive stance. To take an offensive stance means looking at church fields as mission fields. We need to look at how we can leverage a situation that Satan intended for evil and redeem it for the glory of God.

So far, we have spent most of our time working on how to take care of the sheep already in the fold. Little time or effort has been spent on leveraging this situation to reach sheep outside the fold. I believe many are now ready to hear the Gospel in ways not seen in our generation.

This means we need to look at how to do mercy ministries as part of our evangelism strategy. It means we need to see that the use of the internet will be a permanent part of our ministry. It also means we must begin to look at how to do discipleship in a way that people can feed themselves and their family spiritually. I am afraid that we are spending way too much time and effort on how to get our sermons to our church members rather than looking for ways to disciple people to reach out to the lost in their communities.

The challenge ahead is for churches to develop a plan of what to do differently in the immediate future. Our plans BC are no longer useful. We must take the time now to develop plans for moving forward that are focused on reaching the lost rather than only maintaining current members.

Sometime in the future, maybe next year, maybe in two years, we can put together a long-term strategy for rebuilding our community. If we do not position ourselves now by having a good strategy in place for the immediate situation, we will not be able to help later.

So, in the middle of the chaos that surrounds you right now, begin thinking about your church and the immediate plans that need to be made. Begin planning how to leverage the current situation into ministry opportunities that will help your church effectively minister to those around it when the battles rage over the next few months.

Remember, you are not alone. God has strategically put you in your exact place for such a time as this. Please look up from the immediate situation and see that the fields are still ripe for harvest. If we prepare now, great victories are ours in the coming months and years.