…the role of the Church in finding life’s meaning
When Churches had to shut down during the lockdown period in the history of our country, it was obvious the churches major activities and carefully planned programs were heavy impacted adversely. The deadly Covid19 pandemic is still with us even though the heavy burden of lockdown has been lifted and sanctions relaxed. The new order protocol sanctions with strict adherence to safety guides, wearing of nose masks and the use of hand sanitizers, social distancing rule seem alien, unwelcoming and challenging to everybody.
This development imposes a new thrust of burden to move freely, enjoy community fellowship and get together. There’s indeed a shift to embrace a new normal. In the wake of this new development has necessitated the call by the General Overseer of the Central Gospel Church, Dr. Mensah Otabil during Greater Works to take advantage of the devastating effects of Covid-19 to breakthrough.
To begin with, l will re-echo that the COVID-19 is deadly and a weapon of mass destruction that has come to kill, destroy and to rob mankind of the liberty to be free, enjoy progress, shut churches, societies and economies, except for being a threat to humanity, having put people into a state of fear and anxiety and shut economies just to mention a few.
Indeed, the virus’s impact on our socio-economic, political and religious mainstay is enormously devastating and worrying. We can count of businesses and organizations that have been brought to its knees, churches and other religious bodies that have taken a compulsory leave, our cultural philosophy that have dramatically seen a shift from the norm with our polarized political space having to be subdued by this common virus called COVID-19.
The virus’s recounted deadliness with its resultant hardship effects is a fact undeniable but then there’s other positive offerings it has come to open our eyes to. Indeed, it has brought to us a lot of key learnings that have great propensity to shape our lifestyles, invigorate dying companies and organizations with insightful roadmaps and with creative steps to stage a strong comeback to address all shortfalls.
The era of Covid-19 has equally seen great inventions, innovations and creativity across major industries and economies. These new developments have reinvigorated new hope and approaches to addressing the pandemic effects. Arguably, this unwelcomed visitor is an eye-opener, likened to an auditor and or examiner who had to take our supposedly good work through the hard tests.
Admittedly, we are living in very challenging moments where the change that accompanied with the pandemic came sudden and unprepared. Nonetheless, I am of the conviction this pandemic was an act of God with loaded messages for mankind for change and to prepare for new things just to align with His purpose.
The Church and COVID-19:
A great number of Churches for once had to struggle to embrace these new happenings with Covid-19 and post Covid-19 situations. Quiet essentially, were the means to still carry out preaching, sermons, hold counselling sessions and the giving of offertories and donations. I remember a conversation I had with a Pastor who expressed dismay and bitterly complained about the directive for churches not to congregate.
“He rather will listen to God and meet his members than to abide by the directive for social distancing which is devilish for broader is the way that leads to destruction”. That was his position anyway. There are many who hold similar views and had to demonstrate their displeasure by meeting their congregants, joined friends to party, organized social and political events and as such failed to observe the mandatory protocols all of which fall flat of the law for social distancing and other measures outlined to curtail the spread of the virus.
Notably, our Christian faith I must say frowns on deviant attitudes, remaining unyielding, disregarding protocols and being indifferent in understanding the times. Remember, the Spirit gives us understanding not only about matters of the spirit but for simple things like observing cleanliness, social distancing in these times, abstaining from habits that could endanger lives and possibly spread the virus.
And come to think of it, should grace abound so we continue to sin? Should we continue to live recklessly because we know God is all powerful, savior, healer and all? Drive at top speed, eat anyhow and anytime, refuse to observe the social distancing and other protocols? We cannot afford to tempt God because He’s merciful, gracious and ever forgiving. Truly, it’s in the balancing of faith with works that moves the hand of God.
Impacts of Covid-19 on the Church and Economies:
This pandemic season has seen many people lost their jobs or seen their incomes cut. Unemployment rates have increased across major economies. Millions of workers have also been put on government-supported job retention schemes. As parts of the economy, such as tourism and hospitality have come to a near standstill with retail businesses having to see unprecedented falls as shoppers stayed at home.
New variant and surges in cases have made problems worse. Hospitality Sector has shut its doors worldwide. The hospitality sector has been hit hard with millions of jobs and many companies bankrupt.
Having observed that, it’s obvious to indicate that the church is heavily impacted negatively during this trial moments of our history thus, the concern of many Pastors like the one I had a conversation with. The very foundation of the church has been touched culminating a greater introspection to assess and address its shortcomings, leverage on its opportunities to make immense impact by correcting the chaotic situation and saving the world eventually. The church indeed is both a Spiritual entity and a human organization which needs gifted hands to manage for these reasons administratively. The relevance of this context is necessitated by the high exposure of the church’s unpreparedness to anticipate a period like the times we live in. The obvious practice is that, some churches are not used to online services, besides have no financial muscles to go television and radio. Anything lockdown again would be a serious blow to a great number of churches both teething and matured.
Much more so, every Church has its own core mandates and plans regarding growth in numbers, revenue, assets, projects etc. but with different approaches to meeting the set objectives. This pandemic only God knows how long it will linger has certainly curtailed a lot of these carefully planned agenda. It’s highly a concern of the church to see the spiritual growth of its members through a carefully planned programs to aid in their pilgrim’s journey. But what do we see?
Obviously, some churches are trying hard with the help of the social media in reaching out to their members for preaching, information sharing and of course take offerings but I must admit the impacts and effects are comparably inconsequential depending on the churches’ previous experience with the medium and channel currently being used, the readiness and knowledge of the congregants to tune in and master its usage. Revenue and income expectations as well had suffered a great dive by the sanguine effect of the covid-19.
Again, the church is obviously bedeviled to have especially its new converts and those with weaker faith fall out if measures are not put in place to constantly make a follow up on them, for we live in uncertain times where a great number of people are going through hardships and suffering for which the Church has a huge responsibility and a role to play undoubtedly. Indeed the church reveals a spiritual and a physical presence of receiving divine help and solutions.
I recount the other day when a disciple of Christ, Peter had to command the blind to receive his sight and had to proceed to pick him up (a clear demonstration of physical support in counselling, mentorship, coaching, having needs met etc.). Jesus made a very profound statement when He indicated that, it’s the sick (underprivileged, the lost, the poor and homeless who needs the Doctor (healing, salvation, deliverance, restoration, power, support etc.) and for such reason He came. He (Jesus) instructively commanded the church to go into the world to do the same.
It’s obviously not enough to provide for the spiritual needs of a hungry soul without dealing with bread and butter issues (Jesus Christ after having met with the five thousand souls had to subsequently meet their physical needs of providing bread and fish).
The church is seen to be doing great in the area of these commitments to see the believer lacks nothing good. But for the emergence of Covid-19, one will realize there’s still much gab left in this instance for which I strongly believe there must be divine enablement and physical support system to equip same to balance, alleviate, contain and or remove lack from among the people for the bible postulates the believer will lack nothing good. That notwithstanding, the Church is the worlds’ support and solution undoubtedly.
Sources of meaning in life:
A popular psychologist, Abraham Maslow theorized that human decision-making is undergirded by a hierarchy of psychological needs. These needs he emphasized form the basis for human behavioral motivation and satisfaction in life. Life’s meaning and fulfilment is satisfied by personal life goals, health and well- being, religious faith and stewardship. Therefore, the role of the church in impacting the life of the people through these factors is of great essence.
The sense of belonging into a family, feel loved and be treated with love form a greater core of the social needs of the individual.
Personal life goals
The need to self- actualize describes the fulfilment of the individual’s full potential as a person. The quest to pursue and attain higher education status, develop skills and to refine individual talents are broader goals to self- actualization.
Health and well-being
This represent the human survival needs which include food and water, sufficient rest, clothing and shelter, overall health and reproduction. The need for protection from violence and theft, emotional stability and wellbeing, health security and financial security. The question is, how does the Church support the people in finding meaning to life?
The role of the Church in finding meaning:
These 4 great areas represent the key factors the church could assist in addressing the myriad needs of the people amidst this post-covid era.
For these reasons, I strongly opine and recommend that, a workable Social Welfare Schemes, effective structures to harness and build local talents through capacity building programs to ensure self- sufficiency, establishing business support systems and sustainable funds to ameneriolate the sufferings of businesses and entrepreneurs in the local Church levels be fully pursued.
Besides, at the functional levels of various departments, the Church must ensure programs and interventions that align with supporting spiritual growth and social and emotional wellbeing be carried out. Practicably, the church must create avenues for employment and work-related counselling and coaching to marry the bigger vision and mandates of addressing the broader mandate of healing the ‘Sick’ (effects of the pandemic) and providing for information. These I believe must be part if not at the centre of the Church’s priorities.
Remember in series 8, I did say that the Covid-19 is an eye-opener, a master builder whose effects have tested our structures, plans, formulas, programs, revealing our shortcomings and positives against the benchmarks set for ourselves, even from the macro-level of our economy, political space, institutional gabs to the micro-level of collapsed companies, the struggling small scale enterprises and startups are a clear demonstration that, we are not there yet and that we still need to continue building and sustaining the beginning through re-engineering, sustainable policies and of course with the mentality that we shall overcome.
In conclusion, however, I urge all especially the churches to do their part in observing the mandatory safety protocols, reach out to those affected by the hardship effects of the moment, be a blessing to others and together the Church will heal the ‘Sick’.
Discovery….Thinking solutions, shaping visions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The writer is a holder from University of Ghana and GIMPA BA in Political Science and MBA Finance respectively. He is the CEO and Strategic Partner of AQUABEV Investment and Discovery Consulting Group. He is an Executive Director and the Lead Coach in Leadership Development and best Business Management practices for Discovery Leadership Masterclass.
He has authored several articles in Leadership, Business Strategies and Organizational Planning under Discovery Leadership Series. Frank has significant experience in Business Development, Strategy and Finance, Deal Origination, Transaction Advisory, Investment Consulting and General administration.
He has interest mentoring and coaching young business entrepreneurs through Discovery Business and Entrepreneurship Program. He is a nominee for Global Excellence Business Leader Award by the Swiss School of Business and Management, Switzerland.
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8th August, 2021