One month ago, we flew to NYC for a dream week of recording the audio for my new book titled, (you guessed it) Reinvent at Hachette Book Group, taking in Broadway’s The Lion King, people watching in Times Square and eating fancy steaks at New York’s finest. Little did I know then, or when I wrote this book, how prophetic and needful it would be just a few short weeks later.
Now, flights around the world are cancelled or restricted. New Yorkers and those in other states are mandated to stay home. Broadway’s gone dark. Times Square is empty. Restaurants and bars are closed. Words like “social distancing” and “self-quarantined” have become a normal part of our vocabulary.
Like a surreal dream, Coronavirus has emerged as an uninvited catalyst to reset life as we have known it – forcing everyone to reinvent everything, everywhere!
Sure, we knew it was serious when Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they had coronavirus and were in quarantine in Australia. (We wondered – how could Tom Hanks be isolated on an island with Wilson...again?!)
When Disney closed their theme parks, when the NCAA cancelled March Madness; when public schools closed, and universities told students to study from home; when the Stock Market dropped and Italy went on lock down, we were alarmed. We started to ration our food supplies and squares of toilet paper when we realized shelves were being emptied by panic.
When gatherings were limited to no more than 10 people – it got real for us!
As pastors, we (like every other church) were forced to reinvent – and fast. With my recent NYC trip and the audio book read fresh in my heart – I was reminded of the four reinvention questions outlined in the Reinvent book and embedded in 2 Kings 4, in the unlikely story of a widowed, mom of two boys who went from an unexpected crisis to a God-touched reinvention.
We processed through the four reinvention questions with our Executive Team ...
What do we want?
What do we have?
What will we do?
Why will we do it?
...and within 5 days, we reinvented our church from a “gathering model” to an “online model” (via our livestream and Facebook live and YouTube). The result? Our church family and their friends join our Sunday service online and we saw record attendance and more engagement than ever! Our normal attendance of 2,000 people a week ballooned to 18,000 with the click of a button – literally.
In the same week, our team reinvented our free weekly groceries outreach. The result? Our grocery ministry quadrupled from helping 100 families a week to loading up over 400 families with bags of groceries “drive-thru” style!
It’s happening to everyone, everywhere, with everything.
The way doctors, nurses, researchers and medical personnel have stepped up to work tireless hours caring for the sick; the way professional athletes offered to pay salaries for stadium workers out of work, and the way store clerks, line cooks and tech experts have stayed at their post to serve on the frontlines – are beyond inspiring! The way engaged couples are making lemonade out of dashed Wedding dreams and the way high school kids are thinking about possibly reinventing their prom and graduation celebrations online are just a small taste of the innovative ingenuity God has put within all of us.
There is a good chance that things will NEVER go back to the way they were. We will come out of shock eventually. We will reflect and grieve loss. We will find our new normal. This will take time. But, if we embrace the idea that in this fallen world, God will help us reinvent, start fresh and love life; and if we’ll answer the four reinvention questions He has embedded in His Word – perhaps He will touch our lives (and our world) in a new way and things will be better than ever.
Let’s think about, “What if...”
...the Italians keep singing to one another from their balconies?
...families continue to spend more time talking, reading, hugging and ending up closer than ever?
...more young people (or old people too for that matter!) are inspired to go into the medical profession?
...the digital skill-sets people are gaining now, turn into new income streams and successful side hustles later?
...the online model of church, education and doctor visits turns out to be a good thing?
...grandparents, kids and grands keep the habit of sending more love via videos, texts and photos?
...we slow down, are less cynical, more helpful, have a bigger hearts and realize how desperately we need each other?
...a fresh grace, humility and partnership emerges between world and political leaders?
...we continue to make each other laugh through the most ridiculous, but funny, memes?
...a genuine revival breaks out across our world and millions, even billions have an authentic encounter with the risen Savior (even via an online format!)?
Reinvent. Everyone can. Everything will. Everywhere. Let these words from Reinvent encourage you with hope, “Remember, no matter where you’re at in life, God’s specialty is reinventing the last, the least and the lost, and turning them into the first, the favored and the found! He’s got you!”
Beth Jones is a Bible teacher, pastor, and author who has been helping people apply God's Word to reach their potential for thirty years. Her flagship book, Getting a Grip on the Basics, has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into nineteen other languages. Her "The Basics With Beth" television program airs on several networks internationally, including Hillsong Channel and TBN Nejat in the Middle East. Beth and her husband, Jeff, founded Valley Family Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1991, and they still serve there as senior pastors. She is a podcast host and teaches thousands online through her Basics University. Beth and Jeff have four grown children and two grandchildren and live in Kalamazoo.