Thankful For the Fleas

Written by Kris Vos
November 22, 2022

As church leaders in a post-pandemic world, it can be difficult to find reasons to be thankful. Here are some “fleas” to be thankful for:

Corrie ten Boom writes of her sister thanking God for the fleas in their barracks at Ravensbruck concentration camp. Corrie could not understand why they should thank God for the horrible fleas. But she followed her sister’s lead and the Bible’s instruction to thank God in all things.

Not long after, they realized the guards never came into their barracks anymore. So, the women were never assaulted, and they were free to have Bible studies where many of the women came to know Christ. It was only later that they found out why the guards left them alone: the fleas.

As church leaders in a post-pandemic world, it can be difficult to find reasons to be thankful. If fewer people are coming to church, fewer people are being discipled. How can we find reason for thanksgiving? Let me take a shot at it. Here are some “fleas” to be thankful for:

Impact in Exile – Throughout Biblical history and church history God chooses to use His people to impact the world in powerful ways when they are harassed, imprisoned and seemingly near extinction (see: Daniel, Esther, Jonah, Acts, etc.) One might conclude that enduring difficulty substantially increases our Kingdom impact.

Sifting – We have known for some time that Canadian and American Christianity has lacked an emphasis on discipleship. The pandemic revealed it was worse than we thought. The “sifting” has revealed our weaknesses. Now we see we need to dig in and get to work discipling the next generation.

Livestream – The pandemic pushed the church into the world of livestreaming and social media in unprecedented ways. There are people in our community who are regularly tuning in to our services who were not exposed to church at all before.

Renewal – Challenges that were lurking in the shadows became exposed in recent years. More and more churches are getting serious about renewal. We can no longer rest on our laurels. We need to proactively pursue God’s purposes!

Missional Priorities – More than ever we have realized that our focus must be on the neighborhoods and cities around our churches. I participated in a seminar where the church leaders were assigned to send in pictures of their “context”. Several the leaders sent in pictures of their church buildings. Most sent in pictures of the neighborhoods surrounding their facility. There is a renewed urgency for mission! We exist to serve the people outside our church.

Integrated Faith – We became keenly aware that “faith” was but one slice of the pie for the people in our churches. It jostled for position with sports, politics, family, and social life. Discipleship going forward means raising up a people where faith is central and the rest of life flows from that center.

Letting Go – The pandemic reminded us in some very painful ways that life is beyond our control. Prayer is where the real power lies. We need to move beyond planning and programing as our first response. Our planning and programming must flow from a place of peace that is powered by prayer.

I hope this short list sparks some gratitude for the “fleas” of the last couple of years. I am sure you can add more to this list. I would love to hear yours: kris@churchrenew.org

We at the Center for Church Renewal wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

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