It’s easy to see the damage COVID-19 is producing as this season unfolds. While there are many unanswered questions about how long this quarantine will last, what kind of restrictions will remain, and how many lives will be lost in the wake of this pandemic—there are signs of hope and Kingdom progress not far from the surface of the situation. Let me share four reasons why I think the Church global will be stronger after COVID-19.

Appreciation: Even the introverts are missing Sunday gatherings at this point. We were created as social beings and we were created for corporate worship. Having this essential function withheld from us has brought a newfound appreciation for Sunday gatherings and mid-week fellowship. Returning to our rhythm of regular meetings with deeper appreciation for our time together will make the Church stronger after COVID-19 has run its course.

Innovation: There’s nothing like a national pandemic to boot leaders into innovation overdrive. Whereas church-as-normal tends to drive us into deep ruts (same old order of service, sermons timed to the minute, three songs at the front and one on the backside, etc.) COVID-19 has forced church leaders to innovate new ways to connect people, to equip them, and to get them serving those in need. Innovation is like a muscle, once you begin using it all the time, it becomes easier to engage when you need it most. The Church will be a stronger innovator at the end of this pandemic.

Grit: A challenge of this magnitude will force some churches, even very healthy churches, to close. That is a reality. In the case of most churches, the adversity will make them stronger and give them a sense of grit. We are learning so much in this time! How to respond to government officials, how to organize relief efforts in our city, how to keep community alive when we can’t meet in the street. What is God preparing the Church for in the future? I don’t have an answer to that, but I know we will need some grit—the Church will have more grit when this is over.

Adversity Bonds: Though we are apart, the Church is bonding right now. Pastors are sharing ideas, offering to help share video resources, writing procedures for one another. The Church is tackling this season TOGETHER. I love seeing ministries partner to make a stronger experience for participants. Weaknesses are being exposed and instead of attacking, I see leaders helping, resourcing, praying, and giving help to those who need it. When this is over, our bonds will be stronger, the Church Body more whole, and a new readiness for the next challenge will emerge.

Have hope, dear friends. Aslan is on the move! God was not caught off-guard with COVID-19. Let’s lean into prayer, fasting, meeting with saints (virtually!), and other spiritual disciplines to help us hear the call of God in this season. The hour calls for Christians who are ready to build up the body of Christ!