Our focus for this issue is on the long-term impacts of COVID-19 affecting us as individuals, church, and society. The articles will give us multiple perspectives—historical, social, political, economic, environmental, and theological—of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We begin with COVID-19 and a Search for Historic Parallels by Rory Macleod and David Taylor. Rory, Managing Director of Objective Analysis, and David, the former editor of Lausanne Global Analysis, seek to locate contemporary lessons of COVID-19 within the wider historical events of the 1914–1945 period that encompassed two world wars. In particular, they analyze the social, economic, and environmental impacts of these events that are similar to those caused by COVID-19. There are many uncertainties as a result of such calamities, but one thing is certain: the post-coronavirus world ‘will be changed in some important respects’. The authors challenge Christian leaders to ‘organize their thinking about a landscape with important features that will remain largely unknown for a while’, and ‘start to make prudent plans to address changed contexts for their own operations’.
Although we recognize there are many challenges and opportunities for mission in an intra- and inter-pandemic era, understanding the global political, economic, environmental, and social trends will shed some light on the ‘new normal’ of life during this period. In her article Hungry for Good News in Pandemic Times, Carol Kingston-Smith, a freelance speaker, writer, mentor, and co-founder of the jusTice Initiative, guides us through these trends and suggests three key gifts the church in mission could offer in response ‘to serve the common good with faith, hope, and love in an intra- and inter-pandemic world’: the gift of ‘rooted’ faithful presence, the gift of ‘love and of a sound mind’, and the gift of collaboration.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged church leaders round the world to ask searching questions about church life. When we come out of the crisis and enter perhaps a “new normal”, should congregations rethink discipleship, mission, and church? If so, the experience of “fresh expressions” offers a resource for this self-examination’, writes Michael Moynagh, an Anglican leading theologian of fresh expressions. In Christian Communities for Every Context, besides laying down the theological basis for ‘fresh expressions’, Michael shares some practical models for this integrated approach to mission. He concludes that ‘fresh expressions’ articulate the tradition passed down from older congregations ‘in innovative ways for unreached contexts’.
Rethinking discipleship and mission is what Israel Oluwole Olofinjana challenges the church to do, especially the church in the West, in the context of global suffering. Israel is the Founding Director of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World and a Baptist Minister in the UK. In Decolonizing Mission, he argues that as ‘people from the majority world appear to suffer more due to systemic and structural issues in our unjust world’, the global church can learn from majority world Christians and their theologies about whole-life discipleship models ‘rooted in suffering and sacrifice caused by social economic inequality’. He asks, ‘What could be more exciting than hearing the voices of African theologians or Latin American theologians in our Western apologetics, missional church conversations, and whole-life discipleship training?’—a thought-provoking question.
J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Professor of African Christianity and President of Trinity Theological Seminary, Ghana, reflects on the 2020 celebrations of some of the most important events in the Christian calendar: the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost. They were celebrated ‘at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’. He invites us to participate in his biblical journey through these events in The Christian Calendar and COVID-19 and discover similarities in the context and mood between these historical events and the current pandemic. In all of these situations, we are confronted by ‘the enigma of evil’, suffering, and pain in life ‘against the reality of a compassionate God’. Our hope lies in God’s sovereign power, for ‘in God’s salvation history, lockdown mode is never a permanent condition because evil never has the last word as long as he reigns,’ Kwabena concludes.
We pray that this issue has helped us to discern the leading of the Spirit to his ‘new normal’.
Lausanne Global Analysis is also available in Portuguese, Spanish, and French. Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue will be released in November.