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As From Sunday June 19, 2020 the coasts of the experience of the global Covid 19 pandemic will be coming clearer as Churches most especially in Lagos and Ogun States will be expected to throw the doors open to members for Sunday service. Churches in the Frontline States have been locked down for about two solid months from April 2020 this year. While the Church was under lock and every person and everything was locked down. There were very many and various experiences, all in stages and the Church and its Pastors were no exemption.

There was an initial stage of the lockdown, especially for the first two weeks when everything was received with funs even  as strange as the atmosphere seems to look like. We experienced a Sunday that all over the world nobody could go to Church or attend Sunday service, the big and the small was affected.

Earlier, some of our big Churches had accepted the fate brought by the government and the realities of Covid-19, they had instructed their Churches to remain close, while some others could not fathom any reason why the church should remain under lock and key. But the power of the government prevailed and Churches remained closed.

Then the era of the response came. How do we respond and handle the situation as people of God? It was reasoned that if the physical Church was under lock nobody could lock down the true Church of God which is the people. Then family Church, home fellowships took over. This was done for one or two weeks and many Churches of two or three members sprang up on the social media.We began to have Facebook Churches, WhatsApp Churches, and Churches and messages on  Instagram, Twitter and the  likes. Even with this it was not like the Church would come together very soon and the high technology took over.

Just like government and the corporate world took to high technology by holding meetings and webinars on Zoom, Google meetings, YouTube, and the like, the people of God also followed suit. Messages, programmes and meetings of Churches have now gone online.

In this respect we can also safely mention it here that some of our social activities like birthdays and burials were celebrated on social media. With these developments, and as the Church prepare for a comeback we are concerned with how the people of God are prepared for the Post Covid Church.

In this context we can reckon with two types of Churches,  some are the  sophisticated, high  tek, knowledge-based – both social and spiritual, wealthy and rich as well as adequately well equipped with people, such as technicians, business managers and urbane gurus in their own rights.

On the other side are the rural, not so exposed, poor or not so rich or knowledgeable Churches and their Pastors. While the former could be said to be adequately prepared, nothing showed that the latter were  ready for the realities of the Post-Covid -19 era.

To the well endowed and rich Churches they were the one taking care of their members, they gave out palliatives, they gave out money, they reached out to the members online and offline, and it was not likely that the lockdown could affect them so much because some of the well-to-do members could reach out to the Church Management with their substances to maintain the upkeep of their members.

To the not so rich medium level Churches and their Pastors the experience of the lockdown was rather imagined than real. But the stark realities remained that many of them could not have much to give to their poverty-stricken members when the lockdown lasted.

The effect of this lockdown on Churches is that while some Churches would gain, many others would be on the loss side. Such are likely to lose members, and that is why the call for the reopening of Churches is louder at one end than the other.

Well whatever happens at the end of it all and for the long time after the lockdown it should be expected that the Church may not come back to the same way before the lockdown. The Covid -19 lockdown has come with a lot of challenges and Pastors and Churches that are not ready to adjust to the challenges brought may have to lick the wound of the lockdown for a long time to come.

Therefore my appeal to some of our less privileged pastors and poverty stricken Churches is to quickly adjust and adapt themselves to the new changes to come. They should release themselves to new things, new knowledge, new lessons and new ways of doing things. They are likely to lose members, not to death but other better organised and more caring churches. But they should take it in good faith. Our medium level Pastors should  also think of turning their messages to the realities of the time.

Do we need to advise them to change their  prayer patterns? The much celebrated devil and enemies of the members might have changed, the household enemies might have gone with Coronavirus, deliverance may not be in vogue after Covid 19 lock down.

Therefore what should occupy their mind more now is to look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. Their message should be tilted towards spiritual and physical growth of the members, how they nurse and nurture their businesses, and prayers should also be directed towards business growth and career development.

Our up-and-coming pastors should also devote more time to reading, studying of the word of God and learning about their environment, new ideas and technology. They should try their best to stay ahead of their members in knowledge physically and spiritually. They should not also be expecting to take from their members, but also to work and pray for their empowerment.

To our well exposed rich Churches too, let them accept that the Church of Jesus Christ is one. They should not relent in empowering small Churches and their Pastors with the word of God as well as equip them with what to sustain them in the Post Covid-19 era. They should try their best to reduce lack and poverty in the Church of God.

On a very last note, the local Churches should also do their best to keep to the new health and safety regime. Let them maintain all the safety standards as required by the government, space distancing, alcohol-based sanitizer, and temperature tests thermometer should be within their reach. As they wear their nose or mouth masks. The Church will do well to help the government in fighting community spread Coronavirus.

Even as we meet, let us not only our attitude as a people of God to show that we are well-informed to contain the pandemic but to use our prayers, godliness and faith to root the pestilence out of existence, May  God continue to strengthen and bless His Church.

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Julius Adegunna, a writer, and publisher of good news and reports. He is also a trainer in Writing and Publishing, a Media Consultant and an Entrepreneur. A 1987 Graduate of International Relations of the University of Ife, (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) with Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations, and Master in Communication Studies of Lagos State University. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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