By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
If Southern Baptists had a national motto, it would be that simple sentence.
I have attended a Baptist church all of my life — and that now spans 62 years. I have heard that Baptist motto all of my life, and sadly, I have used it myself more than once. And, my guess is that most Baptists, if honest with themselves, will admit they also have said, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Oh, I almost forgot. The second part of that motto is, “And, we’re not going to start now.”
Thanks to COVID-19, the Baptist motto is no longer valid.
In the past two months, Baptists have had to do a lot of things that “we’ve never done that way before” and they really had no choice. And, guess what? Our churches are still alive and well.
By now, some churches have begun meeting again, but still thousands of Baptist churches are waiting to reengage with in-person services. Be sure to read TBC President Bruce Chesser’s column in this issue. He reminds us that we shouldn’t say our churches are going to reopen. Why? Because, as he observed, we have not been closed. We just have been meeting and ministering in ways that “we have never done before.”
And, what’s more, the world has not ended because we have done things we’ve never done before.
Think of all the things that we have been doing in recent weeks that “we have never done that way before.” Here’s just a few:
- We have worshiped together off site. We have listened to our pastors and church musicians either through video or livestream technology. God’s Word has been proclaimed. And, many people who would never have entered the door of a church have heard gospel messages through technology.
- We have learned that technology is not necessarily “evil.” When we couldn’t leave our homes, we could still “see” and fellowship with folks through mediums such as Facebook, Zoom and others. We miss the handshakes and the hugs but technology has enabled us to see each other when we couldn’t leave our houses. We have still been able to “attend” Sunday School, prayer sessions and meetings. Unfortunately, even COVID-19 couldn’t erase Baptist meetings.
- We have rediscovered the telephone, or at least what the telephone was intended for. With the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, texting and more, conversations were going the way of the dinosaur. COVID-19 has allowed us to actually call our friends and engage in meaningful conversations, instead of exchanging a few words or waving at each other from afar on Sunday mornings. And, while on the topic of speaking, I have talked with more of my neighbors than ever before while taking a walk each day.
- We are more intentional in caring for each other. We have checked on people to see if they had needs that we could meet. COVID-19 has helped us become more aware of the circumstances of those around us. Only God knows how many meals or groceries have been left on porches of people who were at risk for the disease and could not leave their homes.
- This may not apply to everyone, but I have learned it’s okay to stay at home and rest or read a book or help your wife plant her flowers. I used to think I always had to be “doing something” or going somewhere.
These are just a few examples. We all have our own list of what we have done that we didn’t do that way before.
As we get back to our workplaces, churches, and schools, may we not fall back into that trap of thinking we can’t try or do new things. We might even discover there are things we used to do that we can do differently and maybe, just maybe, even better than before. Let’s not let the lessons learned from COVID-19 go for naught.