The recent restrictions put on social gatherings for Oklahoma has been a big change for churches but some local congregations are proving to be creative in how they are coping. In fact, the pandemic may be helping them reach more people via online services, strengthening family bonds, and be more like Christ as they serve as His “hands and feet.”
West Side Free Will Baptist Church has been live-streaming their services. Anton Thery, Youth Pastor, said, “It’s a way to ‘get out of the box’ a little bit. For example, I’ll be doing this Sunday’s service outside and using a threshing sledge I built and develop the sermon from there (weather permitting).”
When talking about how the pandemic has affected his church he told Sapulpa Times, “It has impacted our Church in both positive and negative ways. We will try to take the good positives and make them great. We will explore how to take the negatives and turn them around. All in all, it could be a much-needed pushing of the envelope.”
Pastor Thery is pleased with how the congregation has responded to the needs of others. “In the Old Testament, if you want to upset God, disregard the widows, orphans, and poor. I do believe West Side has been tremendous in looking after those three groups of vulnerable people. That should always be one of the main objectives of any church–and it is definitely one of West Side’s. We want to be more than simply telling the Gospel here. We want to effectively live it as a community of faith.”
“It’s an awakening”
Pastor Mike Lehew of Church Inside Out, has taken a different approach by deciding not to have online services, but said, “Instead we are encouraging our church to lead church at home. We give ideas to how that is to happen but we want to empower our church to be the church in their homes. We do gather (online) in our DNA groups through the week for the Word, encouragement, and accountability.” Pastor Lehew went on to say, “The church is so much more than a building – the church is people. It’s (the pandemic) is also making life slow down and family is becoming a priority again.” Church Inside Out is serving the community by delivering medicine or groceries to those 60 or older who may need assistance and praying around the clock. Pastor Lehew shared this quote he received from someone, although the author is unknown, “So, Corona has us homeschooling, praying, spending time with the family, praying for others, and being sober-minded. Sounds like God is in control. This isn’t a plague, it’s an awakening.”
Rev. D. Todd Sloggett, President and Founder of HMA Ministries, is seeing a lot happening in the Body of Christ. “The church is being forced to remember what she was here for, to begin with. Caring for the elderly, sick and at risk in our communities. Spreading the Gospel message of hope, peace, and strength through Christ and His perfect plan. The Bible is being quoted more, people are praying more. and more people are caring than I have seen in a very long time.
“Truth be told, how The Church, Christians, and all good American people handle the normality of life coming back, will determine the total and final effects of COVID-19 on America. Will it just be a passing thing? We fed people and checked on folks and thought about how our actions affected others and watched our government…until everything got back to normal. Until we got our jobs back and our income came rolling back in and we were able to spend all day everyday selfishly worrying about all of our games and toys and hobbies again. Or are we going to use this frightening global health and economic crisis to “reset” some of our basic priorities?
“Then and only then will we know for sure what we are made of, what the final effects will be and what the future of this great nation will look like. God bless America, Oklahoma and Creek County.”