Welcome to Your Network!

Dear EFCA Leader,

On behalf of thousands of pastors, missionaries, ministry directors and chaplains we praise God for you! As a servant leader in the EFCA movement you are a valuable member of the EFCA Network. The Network is us! It is the people who connect, serve, preach and lead in all kinds of ways, all kinds of churches and all kinds of ministries, all over the world in our One EFCA.

Hear this from your fellow leaders:

  1. Stay connected with your ministry peers. Don’t walk alone.
  2. Keep growing personally and professionally. Don’t get stuck.  
  3. Find your sweet spot to maximize your kingdom contribution. Don’t get sidetracked. 

As your repurposed Ministerial Association, we no longer ask for membership dues but we do appreciate donations to support our Network initiatives related to leader health, recovery, growth, connectedness and effectiveness.  You might start with $20 or $25 this year and aim to increase your investment in your fellow leaders each year. Simply visit www.EFCA.Network/give

Learn more about your Network at www.EFCA.Network. Get to know the new Network Board, which includes pastors in different settings and church sizes, ministry directors, a missionary and a District Superintendent. We exist to encourage leader to leader relationships. Every call, every meeting, every Zoom, every email and text between leaders is an expression of the relational root system in the EFCA that is the Network. Check out our resources page at www.EFCA.Network/resources and send in your favorite tools and ideas to share!

Our prayer for you is that you will remain a healthy, growing and effective gospel worker through every season of your life and ministry. The EFCA offers many opportunities and resources to support you and the Network’s goal is to help communicate and encourage participation in what is already available. 

We are “better together.” You need other leaders beside you, and they need you. 

Your Network Board is available to pray with and encourage you. You can find our bios and contact info at efca.network/contact-our-team

Serving Jesus and His Church with you,

Your Network Board

Darin, Bob, Paulo, Clint, Tammy, Jon, Jonathan, & Chi Eng

Evangelism: It’s not a technique

Just a couple of powerful quotes from some dead theologians who wrote some fantastic books!

“What carries conviction is the manifest disinterestedness of the speaker. He speaks from his heart because he is too eager to be able to refrain from speaking. His subject has gripped him. He speaks of what he knows, and knows by experience. The truth which he imparts is his own truth. He knows its force. He is speaking almost as much to relieve his own mind as to convert his hearer, and yet he is as eager to convert his hearer as to relieve his own mind; for his mind can only be relieved by sharing his new truth, and his truth is not shared until another has received it. This his hearer realizes…. To all this is added the mysterious power of a secret. Christian experience is always a secret; and the man who speaks of it to another always pays him a subtle compliment when he entrusts him with his secret of life… In speaking of it he goes through it again; in setting it before another he sets it before himself in a new light. He gets a deeper sense of its reality and power and meaning. In speaking of it he pledges himself to the conduct and life which it involves. He proclaims himself bound by it, and every time that his speech produces an effect upon another, that effect reacts upon himself, making his hold upon his truth surer and stronger.” The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, Roland Allen, pp. 10,11

“All-important is a diligent endeavor to have the power of the truths professed and contended for abiding upon our hearts, that we may not contend for notions, but that we have a practical acquaintance within our own souls. When the heart is cast indeed into the mould of the doctrine that the mind embraceth — when the evidence and necessity of the truth abides in us — when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but the sense of the thing abides in our hearts — when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for — then shall we be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults of men…. What am I the better if I can dispute that Christ is God but have no sense or sweetness in my heart from hence that he is a God in covenant with my soul?” The Works of John Owen, Vol 12, p. 52, John Owen

Functional Structures

Resources / Church Health / Governance

The way a church is structured has a direct impact on its ministry effectiveness. Preacher and ministry leader Tom Skinner described the beginnings of an outreach program as 100% ministry. You are out in the community talking with people, praying with people, starting Bible studies, doing follow up. But over time a new reality creeps in – administration. The more people and groups and leaders that get involved, the more oversight and scheduling and management is required. Pretty soon, as the leader, you have very little involvement in ministry and all you are doing is what Skinner called “monster.”

Can you relate? I know I can. Administration is not bad; it’s necessary. But when churches get structured around oversight instead of around ministry, the gears can bind up and slow actual ministry to people to a crawl.

One EFCA church used to have what was called a “Church Council.” Every month all of the elders, all of the deacons and all of the ministry leaders were required to meet – nearly 30 people in a church of 250 – so that every team could provide a report and discussion could take place. It was exhausting. It was cumbersome. But it was encoded in the church’s constitution, so everyone had to attend and make their report.

A Natural Church Development survey revealed a primary weakness at this church was “functional structures.” They knew that the church council was slowing them down, but it took over a decade to actually change their structure to provide more freedom and flexibility for ministry.

I am very thankful that in my experiences in the EFCA the structures have been mostly flexible and empowering for leaders and ministry. Here is my current church constitution and bylaws for our church of around 200 people. And here is our ministry team structure. In short, the elders provide each ministry with a purpose statement and commission a leader to accomplish that purpose. There are no requirements for how the leader builds his or her team; no mandates for a certain number of meetings or team members. The leader has a purpose and checks in with the elders every year to clarify that purpose and request any needed prayerful support.

Our goal is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12) not to bog everyone down in unnecessary oversight meetings. Let’s unleash our people for ministry and do what we can to reduce administrative monsters!

Sample Church Constitution and By-Laws

Women and Credentialing

Senior Pastors, Are Your Staff Women Credentialed?

Tammy Medders, New City Church

I love the prayers of Paul documented in Ephesians 1:17-19, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-12. We can see Paul’s shepherd heart and the passion that he has to see the church and its leaders grow. His prayers remind me of my own desire as a church leader to be filled with the knowledge and insight of God, and lately I have been praying these not just for myself, but for all the women on staff across our EFCA churches.

As a local church staff member for the majority of the last 25 years and on staff in the EFCA for the last 13 of those, it has been so meaningful to me when my senior pastor/supervisor has cared about my development and growth as a follower of Jesus and leader on his staff.

Over the years, I have heard my husband say repeatedly that he wants his direct reports to be more equipped to lead in the area of finance and internal audit because they have worked under his leadership and I have watched his actions back that up. I have witnessed him coaching his female staff over the phone and on conference calls just as many hours as the men. I challenge you as a senior pastor to adopt that same attitude towards your staff, both men and women.

I have to confess that over the years, I have been envious of those women working in secular organizations and have had the thought that they are being developed as people and leaders so much more intentionally than most women employed in the church. I have personally felt behind those women and less able to lead with the professionalism, communication skills and expertise that they do. And as happy as I been watching churches employ those gifted women in roles of leadership who have been trained and developed in corporate America, I have felt myself selfishly thinking, “What about those women who have been devoted to vocational service to the local church all this time? Do we have to work in the secular world or non-profit organizations to be given the opportunity for development?”

In the book, “Designed to Lead,” Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck make the argument that the church should be the primary leadership locus in our communities. We should be developing leaders for our world more diligently than any other organization, and I would add, even more so for those on our staff teams, men and women alike. An easy place to start is with credentialing.

How would you answer this question, “Why do you want your male church leaders to go through the credentialing process?” I imagine possible answers to that question are:

  1. to make sure that you know your staff is theologically aligned to EFCA beliefs;

2. to have their call to Christian ministry affirmed;

3. to make sure that they accurately handle the Word of God as they preach, teach, and lead your congregation;

4. to publicly affirm their character.

I want to challenge you that those are the very same reasons that you need all of your staff to do the same. I would add to that list: choosing curriculum, writing women’s ministry studies, teaching children, youth, and women, leading groups, and equipping volunteers to lead as additional answers. My point: women need to be credentialed, too.

I have held various roles in ministry over the years: Children’s Director, Outreach Director, and currently, Adult Ministries Director. I have found in every role a need to be grounded in the gospel essentials represented in our Statement of Faith. I love the inclusiveness in our denomination, but there are also things that we won’t budge on, and I have benefitted from knowing the difference as I help create the culture and help maintain doctrinal purity in my local EFCA congregation.

Consider encouraging your whole staff to pursue credentialing together or send your staff ladies to Gateway. It’s a great place to start as you create a development plan for your women on staff.

In closing, I want to mention that some of the women on your staff may struggle to see themselves as a leader. Women have been told for a long time what they should and shouldn’t do in the church, and though every single follower of Jesus is given the mandate to rule and have dominion over earth as well as to make disciples of all nations teaching them to obey, some of us struggle to identify as a leader in the church for fear that we are doing something wrong. Leadership is one of my spiritual gifts and it has taken me longer than it needed to allow myself to truly embrace who God created me to be. So, you may have to provide extra affirmation to the women on your staff to allow them to embrace the influence that God has given them and to live into all that God wants them to be as leaders of the gospel message. You can help them see themselves as leaders worthy of investment, and our churches will be stronger and more effective in our mission for it.

If you need more information about credentialing or the Gateway course, contact your District Superintendent. They would love to help you find the right resources for your staff. We have also started a community for women working in the EFCA that invests in their leadership development and spiritual health. If any of the women on your staff are interested in joining, have them email me at tmedders@newcity.us. Currently, we are meeting monthly on Zoom for training and encouragement.

Thoughts on this Present Pandemic

It has been just about two months now since our society began shutting down. It seems strange to say it that way because so many things are still going. But it is the personal interaction between people outside of immediate family that has largely been eliminated. Sitting, talking, shaking hands, having lunch together, going out for a cup of coffee, church work projects, youth group adventures, singing together, hugging good friends… all gone.

I have noticed that; in our public discussion, news media, pundits, experts, and internet conversation regarding all of this; there has been an unfortunate lack of personal reflection. This is alarming considering how much we did not know two months ago and how much we still do not know. You would think that thoughtful people might approach the entire situation with a little humility. Not so.

Arrogance and polemics seem to be the order of the day. It is the lockdown liberals (an oxymoron?) in opposition to the resistance conservatives. I do not want to be either of those.

As I recall the first real feeling of societal change came when President Trump banned travel from China. The Democrats howled “racism” and attacked Trump, as usual. Then he closed travel from Europe, and they all howled again. Turned out Trump was right. Then he claimed that all of this would go away like magic. It hasn’t. It is safe to say that nearly everyone has been wrong, a lot.

My first thought about the pandemic was that it was much ado about nothing and would go away. After people began getting sick in Italy, I revised my opinion and thought that we needed to shut down just about everything. Others thought so as well, so we did. Some parts of the country sent people into their homes and told them to stay there. Was this legal? We still do not know.

Was it excessive? We are beginning to discover that it may have been, in many places, for many reasons. Probably it kept some people from getting sick. But, was that worth it? We don’t know that yet either. I am wise enough to know that if my understanding of this situation has changed drastically thrice in the past two months, it will certainly change again.

This realization, in itself, ought to keep everyone from being ungraciously critical of others, including President Trump, Republicans, Democrats, New Yorkers, South Dakotans, and anyone else we might want to belittle for thinking differently than ourselves. We are all trying to figure it out.
I have my opinions, you have yours, and every person needs to live their life according to their best understanding and respect the fears and beliefs of others. So, obey the laws, wear masks around people who want you to wear masks, don’t hug people who don’t want to be hugged, and no licking! That is the new rule at a daycare here in South Dakota, where people have been remarkably reasonable and considerate.

However, I would like to comment on something that is of increasing concern to a pastor who spends his time in the Scriptures and observing and encouraging people.

At first people advocating lockdowns, social distancing, staying away from others, business closures, and nonessential non-working were talking about a month or two of flattening the curve to protect hospitals from being overwhelmed. I understood that, or thought I did. It turns out that hospitals here have not been overwhelmed. Not even close. In fact, many of the dire predictions have not happened in most places. Were the efforts overkill? Well, we did not know what would happen.

But, now, many people are talking about lifestyle change to protect people from getting sick, societal change lasting much longer. Friends have told me that shaking hands will no longer happen, and hugging? Never. Elderly people and others with health conditions are going to need to self-quarantine for their own safety and activity and travel should be constrained. No big meetings would be allowed, and everyone will need to practice social distancing for years.

This would all be great and save lives if we were not talking about people. After all, what is life? Everyone seems to be thinking about saving lives and how long we want to live. But, have people thought about why they are alive? What happened to living life to the fullest? What happened to western Christian values like freedom and love? Is not life supposed to be full of those things?

I’m 55. This virus probably will not kill me if I get it, but it might. I do not know how much time God will give me. For this reason, I am not willing to give up two or more years of visiting with parents, grandchildren, brothers, good friends, people I love. I’ve already lost two of my absolute best friends in the whole world. I miss them terribly. It is not worth it to cut myself off from others just to live a little longer myself. I choose a short life full of love and people over a long life alone. I realize that this is an exaggeration. The choice is not this stark, I hope. But it seems like, at the moment, we are way too far over on the “I want to live a little longer” way of thinking.

I really do think that, if I were 85, I would feel the same way. My goal in life has never been to live as long as possible. I am going to die someday, but until I do, I do not want to miss out on life. “Bring over the grandkid now! Not if he has a wretched cough, of course. But if the kid is breathing and rested and not poopy, bring him over!”

I am seeing around me now all kinds of people in the beginning stages of loneliness and depression. Already, nationally, depression, drug abuse, and suicide rates are rising. We don’t like living this way. It is not the way God meant us to live. We are supposed to be with people, all kinds of people, different kinds of people. We are made by God to serve people, reach out to people, be in fellowship with people, love people, hug people. I wonder if, in the long run, we will lose more people by isolating ourselves than from this virus.

Am I trying to advocate for some new national policy? No. Am I criticizing Trump or the Democrats? No. I think I understand why Dr. Fauci does what he does and why Nancy Pelosi does what she does and why Trump does what he does. Frankly, they are all pretty much doing their jobs.

Nor am I advocating running about everywhere, maskless, shouting in faces, protesting or being irresponsible or disrespectful. If you are with someone or in someone’s store or home and they want you to wear a mask, do so. Wash your hands often. Protect people around you if you can. This is simply basic kindness and humility. It is considering others more important than yourself. Moreover, we need to care for the sick, not avoid them. The Bible tells us all of this.

The present pandemic has caused many people, maybe most people, to be scared to get together with friends and family. In some places, we are surrounded by social pressures prepared to shame people who get out. Some people think that this fear is a good thing, that it saves lives. Most of the media, obviously petrified themselves, have been promoting fear. Fear and anger increase their audience. I think this is a shame. Fear is rarely a good thing unless it is fear of God, which, quite possibly, is the point of the entire worldwide pandemic.

I would say that people don’t know what they’re missing, but they do. They know exactly what they are missing and it’s killing them. I don’t want people I love to miss out on living, on their kids and grandkids and brothers and sisters and moms and dads and good friends and having coffee together and people at church who all make life worthwhile. I really think that when your life is at its end, whenever that might be, you will not regret spending time with people.

Pastor John Mochel

Christians, the Church and COVID-19基督徒,教會和COVID-19

格雷格·斯特蘭德 [Greg Strand]
[EFCA Executive director of theology and credentialing]
翻譯:林添德, 林曹永中

我們每個人都受到COVID-19的影響。據得來的信息,這種新的生活方式將成為未來幾週或更可能是幾個月的“新常態” 了。
由於需要“保持社交距離”(社交疏遠, 社交距離)(social distancing),我們便要清楚明確地找到在這境况下如何“激發愛心,勉勵行善”和“彼此勸勉”- 希伯來書10:24-25。

我個人受到了影響。上週,我在費城為美國播道聯會(EFCA)東區分部講授一堂神學複習課程。我星期五晚上回來了。在旅途中,我沒有意識到我身旁有人被感染,當我回到家後,也沒有感到有任何COVID-19的症狀。但是,我也知道不是這樣就了事。事實上對於那些已受感染的人,不管他/她自己知道或不知道已受感染,如果他/她能與別人隔離五天,別人受他/她感染的機會就少了一半(50%)。如果隔離十一天,那感染的機會則低至5% – 不足一成。像我一樣曾經在外面與外人有接觸過的,即使沒有什麼症狀,不管自己知道不知道自己是否己被感染,我們就要通過與他們隔離來表達我們對他們的愛心。這樣做好像與我們基督教的信仰背道而馳,但在這病毒時期一點都不是這樣。上個星期天,我和我的內子凱倫(Karen)都沒有參加我們鄰近的家庭聚會。因為我沒有的症狀,我個人也不大担心自己己受感染。但我確實關心別人,所以,出於對別人的愛和關心(太22:37-39;約13:34-35;羅12:10;加5:13;彼前1:22),我們就沒有參加聚會了。

我們的教會受到影響。據我了解大多數我們美國播道會(EFCA)的教會(實際上,大多數其他的教會)在上週日都沒有在教會裏舉行崇拜聚會,即使有亦是很有限度式的聚會,都是格外謹慎,因為我們作為領袖的,要對避免病毒的傳播負責任。許多教會用視頻直播。我們教會的牧師,長老,同工和帶領的,都致力履行上帝賦予教會的使命 – 就是上帝的子民相聚一起:“又要彼此相顧,激發愛心,勉勵行善。你們不可停止聚會,好像那停止慣了的人,倒要彼此勸勉,既知道那日子臨近,就更當如此。”(來10:24-25)。因此,在這場疫症流行期間,我們不少人在探討如何通過新穎,不同往日又有創意的形式來堅持“不可停止聚會”的使命。此外,由於履行 “保持社交距離”(social distancing),我們更立意努力找一條出路以達成“又要彼此相顧,激發愛心,勉勵行善”並“彼此勸勉”的使命。我們正以禱告尋求從上而來的智慧,使我們能在世上明智地過活(雅3:17),為達成“不可停止聚會”的使命努力。我的心也很受激勵,因為我看到我們的牧師,長老,同工和帶領的都以堅定的信心和善良,勇氣和關愛,決心和謙卑地領導。

我們美國的總部已受影響。我們在美國播道聯會(EFCA) 總部一個頗大的影響就是大多數同工都會改在家裡上班。本着愛人的原則,我們聯會主席科姆佩連 (President Kompellen)公告在美國播道聯會(EFCA)總部的大多數員工從即日起要留在家裡上班,只有少數員工可以繼續在辦公室工作。員工亦停止一切與任務有關的遠行,至於那些必要的會議,應考慮其他形式。儘管我們的做法可能與前大不相同,我們總部與區辦事處將共同繼續服侍我們的牧者,教會領導的和教會本身。正如今天各地教會正切思如何繼續忠心服事一樣,我們也是如此。靠著上帝的恩典,因上帝的榮耀和他子民的福祉,我們同心合意的懷着信靠的祈禱,在這關鍵的時刻來辨明主的心意。

最近我們大多數人都聽到和學到一些不常見的新詞彙。其實這些“新”詞彙在過去都有提及,例如在發生嚴重急性呼吸系統綜合症(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [SARS],2003),豬流感(H1N1大流行,2009)和中東呼吸系統綜合症(MERS,2012)的時候。
•保持社交距離 (社交疏遠, 社交距離):“保持社交距離”的一個例子就是取銷大型活動。保持社交距離是促意增加人與人之間的距離,以避免傳播疾病。與他人保持至少六英尺的距離會減少被感染COVID-19的機會。”
•弄平曲線:“弄平曲線是指採取預防措施來減慢COVID-19的感染率,以便醫院為所有需要護理的患者提供病床,物資和醫療人員。” (您可以在此處多了解。)
對此美國國立衛生研究院(National Institute of Health, NIH) 院長弗朗西斯·柯林斯醫生(Francis Collins, MD)有很恰當的回應,他一點也沒有過份或誇大其詞。他說我們正在於“指數曲線”上:
“據最壞的打算,就是一切都不順利,我們未能使“指數曲線”變平,醫療系統又不堪負荷,那麽我們預計在美國可能有一百五十萬人死亡……今天我們還有機會改變這個預計,就是用最嚴緊的措施來保持社交距離 (社交疏遠, 社交距離)來限制冠狀病毒在人與人之間的傳播,但是這非要全國完全的投入不可,否則我們便不能改變“指數曲線”所預計的結果。” (大西洋報; The Atlantic)

因為我們正處於學習初期,所以不少人已發表和正在預備發表關於COVID-19 的文章。 實在有許多很有用的,每一篇都有不同的角度為出發點。下面都是我閱讀過而對我有幫助的,可能對您也有益處。另一方面事情的發展每日千變,所以有些文章很快就過時。所以我在下面提供了一些文章和網站,並附有簡短的註釋,以幫助您了解文章或網站的內容。它們只是簡單列出,並不是按重要性來排列的。
另一點值得一提的是,這些事發生在當地的教會 – 我們的教會是我們確認我們對公共衛生和病毒的科學知識的了解,也是我們作為上帝的子民確認和活出聖經真理的地方。同時也是所有細節要落實的地方。當您思考到如何落實您教會的事工時,以下的資料為您提供了一些原則性的指引,但沒有包恬在您教會所要的詳盡、具體的計劃中。對我而言,能夠看見我們美國播道會的教會以基於聖經和神學的原則來活出實踐神學 (practical theology)和教牧神學(pastoral theology)實在令我非常鼓舞。
¥ 疾病控制與預防中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC),“ 2019年冠狀病毒疾病(COVID-19)” [Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)]:此報告包含“疫情摘要”。此站點很有用處,因為它“除了提供最新的指南外,還提供不少有用和合時的新資訉”。
¥ 疾病控制與預防中心 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC),“做好群眾聚會或大型社區活動的準備” [Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready]:這是針對“大型活動和群眾聚會” 在2019年冠狀病毒(COVID-19)疫情中而提供的臨時指南。
¥ 疾病控制與預防中心,“冠狀病毒病(COVID-19)” [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)]:這六分鐘的視頻介紹了冠狀病毒的傳播方式,和“保持社交距離” 的重要性,並強調,“抗擊冠狀病毒,人人有責”。這非常有幫助。
•“美國總統冠狀病毒指南:減慢傳播的15天” [The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America: 15 Days to Slow the Spread]:這指南概述了接下來幾週的每一步驟,呼籲大家保持警惕,並承諾用“ 15天以減緩冠狀病毒的傳播”。(最新情況:美國總統指示百姓留在家中到4月30日)
¥ Asaf Bitton,“保持社交距離:這不是一個下雪天” [Social Distancing: This Is Not A Snow Day]::這不僅有助於我們理解“保持社交距離”,而且還告訴我們為什麼制止冠狀病毒的傳播如此重要。 “保持社交距離”是“拉平曲線”的關鍵方法之一,這樣我們的醫療設施才不至超荷,以至可以照顧到重症的病人的深切治療需要。
¥ Daniel Harrell,Matthew Branaugh和Kyle Rohane,“教會於冠狀病毒的簡明指南” [Concise Coronavirus Guide for Churches]:這是由《今日基督教》[Christianity Today] 所彙編,包含“可幫助我們在危機中實現使命的信息和資源。”雖然簡短,但它提供了基於聖經真理和牧者的心腸的明智建議。 (下面是另一個指向資源的鏈接:“冠狀病毒和教會:《今日基督教》的最新消息和建議。[Coronavirus and the Church: CT’s Latest News and Advice])
¥ Jamie Aten和Kent Annan(人道災難研究所)[Humanitarian Disaster Institute],“教會如何預備應對冠狀病毒(COVID-19)疫情”[Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus (COVID-19)]:本指南以上帝的真理為出發,靠着禱告,旨在“幫助美國教會計劃應對COVID-19做準備。本指南借鑒了聖經的智慧和我們團隊研究的成果。我們亦分享與地方、州和聯邦公共衛生機構合作的心得和最佳之途。”
•“冠狀病毒與教會:由專家提供教會的可靠資源”:[Coronavirus and the Church: Trusted Resources for Churches from Leading Experts] 這是PEACE Plan的里克·沃倫和以目的為主的驅動教會[Rick Warren and Purpose Driven Church],葛培理中心的埃德·斯泰澤[Billy Graham Center; Ed Stetzer] 和人道主義災難研究所(惠頓學院)[Humanitarian Diaster Institut; Wheaton College]針對冠狀病毒疫情的合作。合作的宗旨是“協助教會和同工領袖準備應對這冠狀病毒對會眾和社區的影響。”此站點上包含了大量資源。
¥ 教會應對COVID-19的綱上高峰會[COVID-19 Church Online Summit]:這為期兩天(3月26-27日)的綱上高峰會,是由人道主義災難研究所(惠頓學院)[Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Wheaton College]與美國全國福音派協會(National Association of Evangelical, NAE)合辦,“是針對教會和教會領袖對COVID-19的回應”。他們的目的是使我們“能夠持續的從戰略和集體的觀點去考慮如何服務我們的會眾和社區”,並提醒我們要 “以忠實回應。並不以恐懼反應。”
¥ Daniel P. Chin,“您的教會要不要停止聚會以減慢COVID-19的廣傳 – 西雅圖三家教會的回應”[Should Your Church Stop Meeting to Slow COVID-19? How 3 Seattle Churches Decided]:這文章內包括一位“全球醫務專家”的明智和有益的指南,這專家“提供了工具讓您的會眾能立時回應。”他從基督徒的角度出發,提供了我們在考慮聚會時的一些指引和從顧念公共衛生的方向在處理的過程中的一些心得。在2003年中國爆發SARS期間,我的兄弟Mark曾向Chin請教過SARS的防疫事工。
¥ Miguel Núñez,“冠狀病毒 – 常見問題解答:由傳染病專家和牧師解釋”[The FAQs: Coronavirus Explained By An Infectious Disease Expert And Pastor]:這很有用,因為它融合了一位既是牧師又是“傳染病專家”的見解。
¥ 安迪·克勞奇(Andy Crouch),“在冠狀病毒時期裏基督徒活出愛的表現-基督徒領袖指南 ”[Love In the Time of Coronavirus: A Guide for Christian Leaders]:這裡有一些深思而富挑战性的話: 就是如何在冠狀病毒中處理生活和事工,以及作為領袖需要如何有意義的渡日。因為這些日子對上帝而言並不突然,這正是福音建立和塑造,甚至更關鍵的,是重塑我們自己和我們的文化的時機。這樣的日子沒有多少人經歷過。這些日子也是宣揚和活出耶穌基督福音的良機。
¥ 阿爾·莫勒(Al Mohler),“對潮流思維的衝激:祈求上帝的憐憫”[The Humbling of Civilization: Praying for the Mercy of God]:這文章提醒我們,我們並非不可一世。它提醒“我們正在目睹…一埸對潮流思維的衝激,正發生在人認為自己可以控制世界 – 不至受這種威脅的心態時。”這使(迫使)我們“將一些最是眼前的問題轉化為最終最深遠的問題”。這也提醒我們,我們是生活在一個罪惡和墮落的世界中,在嘆息聲中等待主的再來。我們感謝上帝賜予現代醫學發展的恩典,使一些人能夠發現疫苗來對抗罪惡在肉身的影響。我們也感謝在耶穌基督中得着真實而持久的盼望。
¥ 布魯諾·馬卡斯(Bruno Maçães),“自負與蔓延:病毒如何震驚了歐洲”[Conceit and Contagion: How the Virus Shocked Europe]:這是一篇重要且具有挑戰性的文章,因為它與莫勒所說(Al Mohler)的含義大致相同,雖然他不是從基督徒的角度來看此事。馬德里一家醫院已被冠状病毒攻敗了, 它的院長在接受採訪時承認:“我們過於自負而犯罪了。” 以為在開明和先進的境況下,與中國大不相同,此類病毒碰不了他們。他們以為是堅不可摧的。有一種例外主義和種族自大的感覺。應對這種大疫情的目標之一是“拉平曲線”,這次大流行病也借用了這曲線圖形闡明了罪及其後果也拉平了我們每一個人的真理。對於基督徒來說,這罪惡無論是現在和在永恆之中已經被掩蓋了。

現在,我们生活在寇狀病毒疫情中,也是真正病毒的廣傳。儘管我們曾經用這個[病毒廣傳] 的術語來描述福音的傳播,但是我們現在有了一個背景,就可以更理解當我們向主祈求衪賜予福音廣傳,正如病毒的廣傳一樣的意味了。正如邁克爾·格林(Michael Green)所說的那樣,基督徒“到處奔走而閒聊福音”(早期教會的福音派)。用今天的語言:我們以盼望和禱告來宣揚並活出、傳播,以至福音如病毒的廣傳。願福音廣傳,願耶穌基督的教會發揚光芒,願我們的影響力如靈裏的病原體的一般廣傳。在這個新而與往日不同的日子中,耶穌基督仍然是“昨日今日一直到永遠是一样的”(來13:8),福音帶來了盼望,並賦予了今世和永恆的生命。
格雷格·斯特蘭德(Greg Strand)
[Executive director of theology and credentialing]亦是教牧職份理事會和屬靈產業委員會[Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee]之一員。他和他的家人是明尼蘇達州北田播道會[Northfield EFC, Minnesota]的成員。