They're Not Coming Back
Posted on January 12, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Direction
Hearing of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was to me like the second plane hitting the World Trade Center on 9/11. My thinking is now, “They’re not going to stop. Virus mutations ride on our worldwide transportation systems.” 

Associational leaders are being told by church coaches: “Help pastors know that their absentee members are not coming back.” The faithful 80% have largely returned. Broadcasting via social media is once-again a priority. Should pastors view Omicron as something to get through for a season and then everything will re-set to pre-Easter 2020? What happened with Covid? With Variant D? 

Losses for churches have borne a different price. As I travel in CABA, I have seen a dozen pastors and their families suffer through the symptoms. John Holbrook, Blanchester Community Church, died from Covid. Others have gotten seriously ill, requiring hospitalization.  Pastors have interrupted their plans to manage the Covid-bearing exceptions. One church had the pastor, assoc. pastor, and 14 families get rather mild Covid symptoms at the same time. 

Pastors tell me they learned several key lessons:
1.    Never shut the doors of the church, but do pulpit-supply. Embrace social media broadcasting. Invest in online communication. 
2.    Encourage new leaders to step up, often getting on-the-job-training. Laud obedience rather than perfection. 
3.    Cut back on ministries to the essentials. This could add new focus to priorities! Review everything and ask if it is accelerating, booming, declining, or tanking. 
4.    Rework your church budget. Pay your bills, anticipating 20% inflation annually. This means tracking expenses and projecting what you’ll need.
5.    Plan ahead personally. Make arrangements for your family with contributions to retirement accounts. Guidestone’s Mission Dignity has increased by approximately 25% their monthly payments to widows to $42,000/year.

The Omicron virus – and other viruses that will come—may slip into your church and your family, but by the grace of God, we have today to tell the Gospel to the lost and care for the suffering in a way that brings glory to God. 
-- Mark Snowden serves as AMS for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
A article last October 19 contrasted Covid with the Spanish Flu, which lasted 24 months 1918-19. The Spanish flu killed 675,000 Americans when the U.S. population was one-third of what it is in 2022. Today, the U.S. death toll has topped 750,000.
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