I'm not saying I think this pandemic is a sign that Jesus is returning in the next weeks or months. In every generation, some Christians have expected him to return in their lifetime, and every generation has been proven wrong so far. I think it plays especially well to our American self-centeredness to think that, of course, all of those scriptures must apply directly to me. :)
What I am trying to say, is that Jesus calls us to be awake, aware, ready. He calls us to live with a sense of urgency and expectancy. While every generation so far has been wrong about the date of Jesus' return, they have not been wrong to sound the warning that he is returning, that judgment is coming, that all of our "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" is going to come to a sudden end.
When we get too comfortable, we don't even want him to return! We hope he'll wait until after I get my dream job or my dream spouse or my dream vacation or my dream grandchildren. We've got plans and goals! College students have lots of plans and goals too. Someone needs to be in their lives, proclaiming and reminding them that Jesus is coming back. As he says three times in Revelation 22, "I am coming soon!" He's right at the door, ready to open it and come in at any time. This pandemic is a good reminder to students and campus pastors alike that his return is always near, and we must always be ready and making others ready for that Day.
(If you want to hear my teaching on some of the scriptures around Jesus' return, including what I think Jesus was saying about timing, you can check out this Pizza Theology from 2 years ago.)
Our response to COVID-19
Some events, like our party to end the school year, have had to be canceled, but most of what we do has just moved online and on the phone. Our ministry model is based on relationships rather than events, so modern technology makes it possible for us to keep going! Here are some of the ways we're adapting:
- Individual meetings - We always meet regularly with students one-on-one for mentoring, support, and discipleship. We've continued these over video chats and phone calls as students have left campus. Some students are easier to nail down now that they have little else to do!
- Small groups - We use small groups for discipleship, leadership development, Bible study, accountability, and fellowship with our students. Cores and peer teams are continuing to gather on various platforms, some even meeting daily to help provide structure and spiritual direction to their members!
- Teaching - We teach our students from the Bible and provide supplemental classes and teachings. This will continue via videos, podcasts, livestreaming, and posted materials as we continue to produce content for our students. For example, we'll be doing a Pizza Theology on heaven and hell in three parts over three weeks starting next Sunday. We are also streaming services on Friday nights on twitch.tv/utdfocus (you can still see the one from last Friday night if you're interested in what we're doing).
Every so often, we like to share a story from an alum to see the further-reaching impact of our ministry. I remember James as a freshman at UTD, and it has been so cool to see God's powerful work in him and through him these past few years. Thank you for your prayers and financial investments that make these stories possible!