hope for churches in stress

Surf's Up!

by Les Cool


As summer approaches, you may be eager to get to the beach. Envision the pounding surf as a metaphor for this pandemic year. Has your response been to hide beneath your beach umbrella? Or were you bodysurfing the waves, trying not to be swept under?

The cumulative impact of Covid 19 continues to pound on us. More and more people and churches are owning the reality that life will never be normal again.

The fact is: most of what we have called “normal” hasn’t been normal for awhile. Shifts have been taking place, often unnoticed. People are no longer flocking to Church. Among the ones who do come, attendance pattens have altered toward less frequency.

Could it be that Covid-19 is an opportunity to respond to these shifts? Now that Covid-19 has pushed us out of familiar church patterns might we be better equipped to “go and make disciples?”

During the pandemic, my wife, Carol, and I took a Covid-impacted vacation. Our “week away” involved day trips. We went to see lights and flowers. We ate at a restaurant that offered Covid-sensitive dining. As our own micro-boost to the economy, we bought books and accessories for our new home.

The highlight was amazing conversations along the way. Most started with what we were doing in the moment or with Covid-19. It was easy to shift these conversations to personal health, both body and soul. One woman, separated from us by a plexiglass barrier, talked and talked. She was starved for a relational connection.

Maybe this is our moment! Conversations. Connections. Relationships. They need not be like before, talking about the weather and the big game. We can talk about life, sharing stories, including Jesus as part of our story.

As we return to church onsite, we will want to refill the pews and restore programs. We can also focus on sustaining pandemic patterns of making new acquaintances, getting to know neighbors better, and taking time for friends—all in obedience to the command to "go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Amid the pounding waves of the pandemic, the surf’s up for Jesus!



Shall we aim to “hang ten” in a missional balance between the gathered and scattered church, learning and growing as we meet together so that we can spread out into a world hungry for relationship with us and with Jesus?




Les Cool is the guest writer for this post. Les is the senior pastor at Trinity Church of Boyertown (PA). He also serves as the Kingdom Extension Associate of the Evangelical Congregational Church. In over 30 years of ministry, Les has been a youth pastor, church planter, and lead pastor. Les and his wife Carol build on gifts of mercy and hospitality, using both to develop relationships for Kingdom growth.

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Barnabas Initiatives is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donors are invited to contribute. Client churches are asked to reimburse expenses, but are not assessed a fee for service. Instead, as they are able, churches are asked to consider a per diem or customized contribution. 

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